Sermon from January 1, 2023
Sermon podcast available at https://downtownlex.org/podcast/
In chapter 63 of Isaiah, Israel has returned from exile to a torn-up Jerusalem and a host of other problems. The chapter examines their response to finding things left bad and the entire journey ahead being overwhelming. And in the middle of it we have this naïve word from God the Father. Yes…God is incredithis Scripture. Is the prophet simply putting lipstick on the pig? Is he trying to make the best of a bad situation? Or is it an oasis in the middle of a desert?
“Surely”, God says, they will choose me. They will be my people! “Surely”, they will not deal falsely with me! I am so certain, in fact, that I will be their savior. I will show them I am here by bringing them back from Babylon and complete the promise I made.
Here is the deal. We know, from hindsight, that Israel did look elsewhere – just like always. Why does God give the people the benefit of the doubt..literally a second chance upon a second chance. Shouldn’t God, the omniscient one, know and act accordingly? Shouldn’t God not be so naïve and vulnerable?
For our sake, I hope not!
God’s perspective is a glass half full one. He comes to all situations vulnerable – willing to have his heart broken (and it is regularly) – for only then does love have a chance to do its transforming work. Foolish? To those who are perishing – yes. But to those who are being saved it is life! For the only hope we have is that the all-knowing God will give himself over and over to the naïve idea that this time we will choose him. Regardless of our past choices. Regardless of our current circumstances. As silly as it may seem that things will be different this time, God chooses our future again by being vulnerable in our present.
New year and a new you is only possible if the new year finds the same God.
I discovered something about myself recently. Something that has been going on for a very long time. I live as if the glass is half-empty and getting emptier by the second. I guard my heart by not having expectations for people. Some are silly. Like my football team. Some show my lack of faith such as at the beginning of the Andover campus when I convinced myself that no one would show up that first Sunday in 2007. Only 369 showed up to a standing room only service that day. I live by protecting my heart. Guarding it from being hurt. And I do so by refusing to be vulnerable. I don’t speak until I read the room. I don’t act until I have assurances. I don’t believe until it has been proved.
God does not operate like that. Thankfully!! He is always the first mover, the initiator, the one who is willing to stand up before everyone else, the one who is willing to be naïve and vulnerable. Because God operates this way, all of creation is given the opportunity for life and life abundantly. We are ushered in and offered again the chance to delight in his will as we walk in his ways. Rather than turn his back on us he turns the other cheek. He goes the second mile. He offers his shirt and his coat.
What if 2023 wasn’t the year we committed to doing more but we committed to a more perspective. A glass half full one. And we became vulnerable with God. Even naïve about what God may want to do. What promises he wants to fulfill in our life. families, and even his church. My faith has suffered from a case of glass half empty living. What if we became vulnerable with our family. Willing to give 2nd, 3rd, 100th chances as we are innocent as doves while also being shrewd as serpents. Actually placing faith that God will do what he has promised. That would be a great way to spend 2023!
 1 Cor. 1:18
 Romans 2:4
 Matthew 10:16