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Chain of Command: MegaFaith (1)

. 4 min read

2014/06/15
Christ Church, Mountain Top
Prayer,
Psalm 18.1-20
Children,
Genesis 15.1-6
Message,
Matthew 8.5-13
Series
intro: “MegaFaith”, from Matthew
      2x – Jesus comments on how much
      2x – how little (the disciples)
One
case (next week), Greek term “mega”. This week, the term is a different one,
still one that highlights the unique nature of this man’s faith:
      “Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel
have I found such faith” (Mt 8.10)
Dad:
model for manhood
      Authority
      Military, “yessir”
My
boys:
      Let’s vote
      Now that I’m 18 …
American
concern for the individual
      Privilege (I know my rights – litigious
society)
      Self-sufficiency (bootstraps)
We
quit jobs because we don’t want to be told what to do
We
grumble about unreasonable teachers or professors
We
exit relationships because the other is too demanding
We
hop from one community organization to another complaining about the folks at
the last one who didn’t give us the freedom we wanted
(And,
I am not endorsing remaining in an abusive situation)
And
we all head to “have it your way”, the king
Enter
the career officer, the military man with his distinctive haircut, squared
shoulders, and upright posture. When we see that in a man, there is something
we admire – service to country, honor, a barely concealed raw physical power.

      But there aren’t too many of us who seek
that life, who choose to be under the authority of another in such a way that
our first instinct is to obey an order, not to question it. (Not that our
military does not teach its leaders to question. That is why “obeying orders”
is no defense for doing wrong.) Part of the process of basic training is to
tear down the façade of our individual rights, our life of privilege, and teach
us to obey. That’s never a pretty or comfortable process. As a Vietnam era
Marine drill instructor told me: “We had only a few weeks to prepare an 18 year
old kid to fight, and we had to do whatever it took to keep him alive.”

I
would like to give you that gift today, that messy and uncomfortable gift: To
tear down that façade of privilege, rights, and self-sufficiency.
      I would like to, but I can’t give you that
gift. It is God’s to give. And, there is a degree to which you must choose it,
must accept it, must welcome it. Only you can sign away your life and your independence
to Jesus. Like a fresh-faced recruit, who may not really know what she got
herself in to, or what Uncle Sam got her in to, we don’t know what we’ll get in
to. We just know that we have given up any claim to ourselves and our lives. We
have submitted totally to the authority of another – to Jesus our Lord.
      “Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel
have I found such faith” (Mt 8.10)
Listen
to how this career officer describes faith: “Lord, I am not worthy to have
you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.
For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one,
‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do
this,’ and the slave does it” (8.8-9).
For
the officer, faith is exercised by trusting the authority of Jesus enough to
obey him. He offers Jesus his total obedience, making no deals, giving no
conditions in advance, providing no limitation to Jesus’ authority over him.
“Such faith.”
      “Just say the word … and my servant will
be healed.” He was not only putting illness under the authority of Jesus. He
was putting himself under the authority of Jesus. He was giving up the personal
claim to his rights, his privileges, his self-sufficiency, to trust Jesus and
Jesus’ will for him.
I
would like to give you that gift today, that messy and uncomfortable gift: To
tear down that façade of privilege, rights, and self-sufficiency.
      Because I want the best for each of us, I
want the best for me. And, the best for me is not found in enlarged privilege,
in articulated rights, in self-sufficiency. The best for me is found in
surrender. It is those who depend on their privilege, those whom Jesus called
“heirs of the kingdom”, who find themselves in the “outer darkness”. I’d much
rather be an outsider, from the “east and west”, who gets to eat with Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob, than an insider who finds himself on the outside, in the
dark.
I
would like to give you that gift today, that messy and uncomfortable gift: To
tear down that façade of privilege, rights, and self-sufficiency.
      In America, we routinely stamp it “Return
to Sender”. Men, particularly, struggle with this. We don’t want to ask for
directions; do you think we want someone – even someone as good as Jesus – to
be telling us what to do? All the time? Young people struggle with this. No,
sir, we don’t get a vote. No, sir, we don’t age out at 18 and get to do
whatever we want.

Enter
the career officer, the military man with his distinctive haircut, squared
shoulders, and upright posture. “I am a man under authority.” I choose a life
of obedience to Jesus. “Such faith.” MegaFaith.