Summary: Does your church desire to make a major impact, and tackle something bigger than itself? Here are some characteristics of a truly God-sized challenge!
When you hear the word ¡§challenge¡¨, what comes to mind? Maybe you think of the words ¡§Immunity challenge.¡¨ Anyone here ever hear those words before?
Immunity Challenge comes from the ever-popular TV reality series Survivor. You know, the one where contestants eat worms, kill their own dinner in the wild, take on absurd challenges, and if they fail to do so with the right amount of social competence, they are voted off the island and forever banished.
In the midst of this game comes the immunity challenge. If you are the winner of the challenge, which is some form of test or competition such as holding your breath underwater, shooting a slingshot, or standing on a post in the middle of a lake like the Karate Kid, you receive immunity. In other words, no one can vote you off. You are safe, protected, guarded. . .at least temporarily.
I suppose that would be one form of a challenge, an immunity challenge. But there are others. Take this one for instance. . .
(Scene with Ralphy from A Christmas Story and tongue on pole)
What you have just witnessed was a challenge, no doubt about it. The challenge was issued. The ante was raised. The testing of that young boy¡¦s manhood was laid on the table. But there is something inherently different between that type of a challenge, and a God sized challenge.
I believe there is a difference between a worldly challenge or dare and a Godly test or challenge.
A God sized challenge is not simply some made for TV, Survivor battle of endurance, immunity challenge. It is not some insane Ironman challenge. Anyone ever seen the Iroman triathlon? They merely swim a couple of miles in the ocean; ride a bike a hundred miles across barren lava wastelands. . .and then, oh by the way, run a marathon. But that still can¡¦t match a God sized challenge.
It is definitely not a double-dog-dare to stick your tongue on a frozen pole. A God sized challenge is much larger, much more significant, much more eternal in its implications in your life.
In the book of Genesis, we find Abraham confronted with just such a God sized challenge. It is a very familiar story to people raised in the church involving Abraham¡¦s son Isaac. His long awaited son. We are talking, his century long dreamed of son.
In fact, in some ways we are also talking about his only remaining son. For just one chapter ago Abraham had sent the son of his servant Hagar out into the Wilderness. He had sent Ishmael away in an act that is described as ¡§displeasing¡¨ to him. So just as he is working through that grief, getting used to being without his son Ishmael, and settling into this relationship with Isaac, he is given a God sized challenge.
Let¡¦s read together what happens in Genesis 22 beginning in verse 1 (through verse 10).
Now I don¡¦t know if you can relate to what Abraham is facing here. I feel that to some degree I can as a father, dearly in love with my only son. And I am sure to some degree, no matter what our walk of life, we can read through this situation and understand the angst and difficulty being faced by this father at the prospect of this God sized challenge.
As we look at this situation, there are a number of things that stand out to me. Things that as I look through the Bible, look through the lives of Godly people around me, and look at my own 34 years of existence I can identify as characteristics of a God sized challenge. A testing so large, so immense, so eternal that it must be from God. A test, or challenge from God. Lets look at some of these characteristics.
One characteristic we see right off the bat in this God sized challenge is that . . .
I. IT INVOLVES SOMETHING WE OWN
God has entrusted us with things, with people, with opportunities over which we are stewards. And while God is ultimately the owner of everything, often we look at those things as something we own.
Maybe it is a home, a car, or a favorite electronic. But look beyond those things to something more significant. Maybe a parent, a spouse, or as in Abraham¡¦s case, a child.
God says, ¡§Take now ¡¥YOUR¡¦ son, ¡¥YOUR¡¦ only son Isaac.¡¨ Often a God sized challenge will involve something you own.
Turn over to Matthew 19:16. Remember the Rich Young Ruler? He comes to Jesus wanting to take on a God sized challenge. So he says (read v. 16). How¡¦s that for a God sized challenge? I don¡¦t want to win the SUV. I don¡¦t want to win the million-dollar prize. No, I want eternal life. That is a God sized challenge. And it begins this interaction between Jesus and this rich young ruler.