What's my purpose?
Lesson for August 7, 2005 — Luke 4:15-24, 28-30By Carmen Andres
As Christians, we think a great deal about God’s call in our lives: What career should I choose? Should I get married or stay single? Should I work or stay at home with the kids?
Questions like these get at our desires to express the gifts and burdens given us by God. We want to be used — meaningfully. But there’s something deeper in these questions of purpose. Jesus identifies it when he announces his own calling.
Jesus has been at his ministry for about a year when he returns to his hometown. As is his practice, he goes to the synagogue. This time, he’s invited to read from Scripture and teach. He reads Isaiah 61:1: “God’s Spirit is on me; he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the burdened and battered free, to announce, ‘This is God’s year to act!’ ” (Luke 4:18-19, The Message).
These verses, written hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, declare the Messiah’s purpose to bring God’s kingdom and meet humanity’s deepest needs. Now, Jesus claims this role and purpose as his own. He brings the good news that God’s kingdom is here and now, and that its joy, freedom and healing is for everyone — not just the Jews, Jesus implies.
The people respond with surprise, then seething anger. How dare a hometown boy claim to be the Messiah — and not just for the Jews? They set out to kill him, but Jesus walks away unscathed.
Ashley Smith’s call, and ours
Jesus’ boundary-breaking call is ours, too. We are his disciples, commanded to bring God’s good news and healing to the world (Matt. 28:19-20). This call underlies all we do or become — married or single or widowed, doctor or janitor, missionary or business person, stay-at-home parent or teacher.
But what does that look like today? I find an example in a now famous 26-year-old single mother.
At 2 a.m. March 12, Ashley Smith went out for cigarettes and ended up the seven-hour hostage of escaped prisoner Brian Nichols, who’d already killed four people.
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