When God tells Abraham he’s going to have a son and more descendants than he’ll ever possibly be able to count, the old man informs the Lord that what he’s saying cannot come true: “Yeah, right! I’m a hundred years old! And my wife if ninety!” Sarah herself, upon hearing that she is going to have a child laughs out loud, right in front of God: “I’m worn out and my husband is old! I’m not having a kid!”
But God answers: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
When God is involved, things can change. When God is involved, ten lepers who are not whole and have no community walk away completely clean. When God is involved, the town sleaze who can’t get water from the well without insult and rejection becomes a Gospel preacher. A loud-mouthed unstable fisherman becomes a pillar of God’s Church. Dead Lazarus, rotting away in the grave for four days, walks out of the tomb. Saul, the persecutor of Christians, becomes Paul, the Christian missionary. When God is involved, things can change.
It’s so crucial that we get this point. If we don’t have this picture of dramatic change, we’ll never anticipate the Gospel. All of us will stay locked up in our prisons.
Abraham and Sarah couldn’t let go of the other picture: worn out old people don’t have babies. That’s just the way it is. That’s the way it’s always been and the way it’ll always be. But, no, things can change.
When Sarah has her son she says, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me” (Genesis 21:6). People who knew Abraham and Sarah were saying, “Seriously? They had a baby?!?” And now all these people also have this new picture of the good news that when God is involved things can change.
As followers and imitators of the risen Christ who saves us, we are charged to proclaim this good news. We’re called to preach it and embody it and share it. God through Christ has defeated the evil empire and we shout that from the rooftops as loudly as we can and we work with everything we’re got to liberate others.
Remember when Jesus was resurrected, he didn’t appear to everybody. Scripture tells us he appeared only to those who had been chosen. He appeared to the people he knew would keep it going, people he knew would keep telling the story, keep declaring the Gospel of the Kingdom of God: that God is still involved and things can still change. That’s our job. Because the fight continues.
The wreckage is all around us. The carnage, the twisted bodies and warped minds, the moral and institutional vileness that surrounds us tells us that the fight is still on. Satan is defeated, yes. He’s done for and he knows it. But he’s working with every power he’s got to take as many as he can to hell with him. Establishing the Kingdom of God isn’t easy. It requires conflict and struggle. It comes with a price.
Jesus gives his followers the power to engage and defeat the enemy: “…that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons” (Mark 3:14-15).
So, yeah, the Church needs to do more than just talk about it. We have to be a community that exhibits the evidence of that power. We don’t just confess Jesus as the Son of God; that’s no more than what the demons do. We don’t just sit on the sidelines, watching the world go by, and do nothing more than offer another religious option for salvation. The Church is charged with standing up and confronting the devil. We are in the rescuing business.
And our greatest weapon is the knowledge and our individual and corporate experience that our God is involved and things can change.