Summary: God’s agenda is to give freedom to the oppressed, and He will not be stopped. But our disobedience can frustrate Him. The church needs to get on God’s agenda quickly.
A little book called “Kids’ Letters to Pastors” provides some fertile ground this morning for us to begin thinking about getting on God’s agenda. You see, you and I know the words we are supposed to say, whether we mean them or not. But kids say what they think, without editing.
And so I suspect that Loreen, age 9, might be where many of us are when she sent a little note to her pastor, “Dear Pastor, I think a lot more people would come to your church if you moved it to Disneyland.” You might be right, Loreen, because a good many of us do think that church is for entertainment, church is fun and games, church is sweetness and light. You might be right, Loreen, because we do judge church by whether it makes us feel good. Never mind that a whole lot of the folks who are not in the church think it is already Mickey Mouse! Disneyland with a steeple.
And then there was this insistent, determined, impassioned note to the preacher of the day from Eleanor, age 12, who still had not heard what she came to church to hear, “Dear Pastor, I liked your sermon where you said that good health is more important than money, but I still want a raise in my allowance.” Yes, Eleanor, we are right there with you. We want what we want when we want it. No substitutes accepted. And you can talk all you want about God’s priorities, but hey, what about my wants and wishes, what about my lifestyle, what about me? We are right there with you, Eleanor.
We are pretty sure that God is busy doing something. Just what we may not always know. But we are pretty sure God has an agenda, a plan and a purpose. It’s just that, if it isn’t too inconvenient, Lord, could you take care of us first? Could you just set aside the plan of the ages and attend to my little hurt, my little wish? Getting on God’s agenda? The trouble is that we want Him on our agendas.
Sometimes at the close of our worship we will sing that folk anthem, “We shall overcome”. Most of us thrill to it when we do. “We shall overcome, we shall overcome some day; oh, deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome some day.” That’s good stuff. But do you know, I get a little uncomfortable when we go on and sing another verse, “God is on our side; God is on our side; God is on our side today.” That troubles me a little. I would rather that we sang about our being on God’s side than His being on our side. I would prefer that we sang about our doing His work rather than His doing our work. I would be happier if we were less concerned about what we want from God, and got more concerned about what God wants from us.
Getting on God’s agenda? We don’t set the agenda; God sets the agenda. We don’t decide what God ought to do; God decides what God ought to do. And more, God decides what His church ought to do. The question is not whether God is on our side. The issue is are we on God’s side, do we know what He is about, and have we gotten on board of His agenda?
When Israel was in Egypt’s land, it became very clear indeed what God’s agenda is. Centuries ago, in the single most important event in Israel’s long history, God laid out His agenda for humanity and, at the same time, created the means by which it would be carried out. You know something of the story already -- how the people of Israel were slaves in Egypt; how God reached out and touched a man named Moses and appointed Him for leadership. And you know, I suspect, that Moses was just like a lot of us: he had doubts. He had qualms. He was scared of the risks. And there were some things he’d rather have first. If not Disneyland, at least peace and quiet. If not a raise in his allowance, at least the assurance that his hard work would pay off. He was afraid to get on God’s agenda. But God would not let Moses go. And, I believe, He will not let us go either, because we are called to get on God’s agenda.
First, notice with me that God’s agenda is to give freedom to the oppressed and enslaved. God’s heart goes out to those who are in trouble, and His purpose is to give them their freedom. If you want to know what God’s agenda is, just look around at anybody who hurts, anybody who is less than they could be, anybody who is captive to something damaging, and you will know where the heart of God’s love is directed.