Summary: Because we have a punkish side Jesus came to save us from us.

Saved From Ourselves

Text: Matt. 1:18-25


1. “I tried to blame my behavior on the holiday traffic. The Thanksgiving weekend had turned the streets near the shopping mall into controlled chaos. I tried to blame my misdeeds on my state of mind. I was driving to my in-laws’ house, having spent most of the day helping to plan a funeral for Denalyn’s ever-weakening mother. I tried to blame my poor reaction on the reckless U-turn made by the teenager. He nearly clipped my bumper.

The traffic arrow invited me to make a right turn into the busy avenue. As I did, the teenager made a sudden, unexpected hairpin turn around the median. We nearly shared paint. I honked at him. I’ll confess: my honk wasn’t a polite “Ahem, excuse me. I am over here.” It was long and strong and demanded, “Do you know what you almost did?”

He drove a low-riding, wide-wheeled, two-toned, exhaust-puffing jalopy that dated back to the eighties. It needed a muffler. It also needed a more mature passenger. As the car accelerated, a long arm came out of the passenger-side window and gave me a backhanded, one-fingered wave.

Grrr. I sped up[…]”“Thanks to a traffic light I was soon side by side with the perpetrator. He still had his window down. I lowered mine. He looked up at me. He wore a baseball cap shoved over a mop of black hair. The brim of the cap faced sideways. So did the smirk on his face.

“You need to watch that wave, son.”

In an ideal world he would have apologized, and I would have wished him a merry Christmas, and I wouldn’t be telling you this story.

But the world is not ideal. When I told him to “watch that wave,” he smirked even more and demanded, “Make me!”

Make me? When was the last time I heard someone say, “Make me”? Middle school? High school locker room? There was that scuffle after the graduation party. Make me? That’s what teens say. Of course, he was a teen. He didn’t have a whisker on him. He was a skinny, floppy-haired, testosterone-laden adolescent who was feeling his oats riding shotgun in his buddy’s muscle car. As for me, I am a sixty-year-old pastor who writes “Christian books and speaks at conferences and feels a call to make the world a better place. I should have raised my window. But I didn’t. I looked down at him, literally and metaphorically, and said with my own version of a smirk, “Now, what did you say?” “Make me,” he repeated.The saints in heaven were saying, “Drive away, Lucado.” Common sense was urging, “Drive away, Lucado.” The better angels of the universe were prompting, “Drive away, Lucado.” I didn’t listen. The dare of the punk activated the punk inside me, the punk I hadn’t seen in decades. I snarled. “Okay, where do you want to go?” His eyes widened to the size of hamburger patties. He couldn’t believe I’d said that. I couldn’t believe I’d said that. You can’t believe I said that. When he realized I was serious, he became the same. “Let’s settle this at the shopping mall.”

“Are you kidding?” I told him. “There are too many people in a shopping mall. Follow me.” Whaaat? All of a sudden I was the expert on where to go to duke it out? The light turned and I accelerated. In my side-view mirror I could “see that the two boys were engaged in a heated exchange.

“What do you think?”

“I dunno. What do you think?”

“He looks pretty cranky.”

“Yeah, he might have a weapon or sump’n.”

By the time I reached the next stoplight, they were nowhere to be seen. They must have turned into the parking lot.

Boy, was I relieved. I drove the rest of the way to my in-laws’ house, asking myself, Did you really just dare a kid to fight? Are you crazy?

I’d like to blame my behavior on my state of mind, the stress of the traffic, the driver who nearly hit my car, or the passenger who pushed my buttons. But I can blame my bizarre behavior on only one thing. The punk inside me. For a few minutes at a stoplight near a shopping mall, I forgot who I was.

And I forgot who the teenager was. In that heated moment he wasn’t someone’s son. He wasn’t a creation of God. He wasn’t a miracle. He wasn’t fearfully and wonderfully made. He was a disrespectful jerk, and I let him bring out the disrespectful jerk in me.

The Bible has a name for “this punkish tendency—sin. The sinful nature is the stubborn, self-centered attitude that says, “My way or the highway.” The sinful nature is all about self: pleasing self, promoting self, preserving self. Sin is selfish.

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