Running For President
When I was a yearling (sophomore) at West Point, I had this great aspiration to be the student body president. I thought it would be a great idea for me to lead our class into years of legacy of greatness for the class of 1999. So I put my name in the hat and then thought of how I would run my campaign. West Point required all yearlings to take an environmental engineering class, we affectionately called “Dirt.” In this class we used straightedges or rulers to help draw our depth of understanding of environmental things on graph paper.
So of course I ordered 1000 rulers and handed them out to every classmate. Each Rulers said, “Give a Heck! Vote For Plek! Chris Plekenpol for Class ‘99 President.” I was in the race against another guy, Jay Gowel, who put pictures of himself on every bathroom stall in the Corp of Cadets that said, “When you move your bowel, think Jay Gowel for Class ‘99 President.” I had steep competition for sure and when the votes were tallied, I was defeated and my dreams of leading a legacy for West Point evaporated. I was disappointed.
In the moment it was a great failure. Second place is the first loser and it was tough taking down all my signs that would have to be put into the trash. Everyone really loved the rulers and so I would have reminders of me not being president for the rest of my time at the Academy.
We all get disappointed. We all have experienced pain in a moment. And for some of us there are a lot more implications than just losing a class election. There is the expectation of children and infertility leaves us disappointed. There is the expectation of happily ever after and divorce leaves us disappointed. There is the expectation of a steady career and then your name is on the layoff list. And when death comes too early, we can ask this question very honestly. What is the point of this disappointment?
John the Baptist
In Luke 7, John the Baptist finds himself in prison. This man had been commanding crowds of thousands, inspiring many to change from their dark paths and follow him. Everyone considered him a prophet. He had had the Holy Spirit dwelling within him since birth. God’s Word had specifically come to him with a unique calling. He was going to be ushering in the Messiah. But prison? John may even have figured that prison might be part of the ushering in the Messiah. Because according to Isaiah 61, the Messiah would set the captives free. But…when was the King coming to his kingdom? John sent a message to Jesus.
Are you the one or should we look for someone else? Jesus didn’t give him a direct word of “Yes” or “No.” And here is why, John already knew the answer. Jesus had been fulfilling all that scripture had said about him. The Holy Spirit whispered to him that Jesus was the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
But most forerunners to a king aren’t treated like a prisoner. It’s not like John was looking for a place in a royal court and a sweet pension. He wanted to fulfill his purpose and prison seemed like a time wasting detour.
Jesus’ response was simple.
Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”
“Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” That stuck.
Because aren’t we offended when our expectation for what God was going to do is not met by our reality. We are offended when God doesn’t do what we expect. This is the challenge that Jesus presented John the Baptist. And I think it is the challenge Jesus presents us.
Will we be offended when Jesus doesn’t do what we expect? Find out in this week’s sermon and watch it live on our Facebook page.