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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Underdog is here!

"There's no need to fear; Underdog is here!"

This Fall, there will be a Hollywood movie remake of a cartoon that used to run when I was a kid. It's based on the Superman story (which has overtones of the Gospel), but it's geared down even a few more notches.

Maybe some of you will remember these characters: Sweet Polly Purebred, the damsel in distress; Simon Bar Sinister, the evil villain; and Shoeshine Boy, a clumsy, nerdy kid (dog) who shined shoes. But, when evil threatened and Polly was once again in trouble, he would dart into a phone booth and become a human-like dog superhero, Underdog!

Whether intentionally or not, comic book heroes like Superman and Underdog get another aspect of the biblical story right: not only has a savior come from outside our world to rescue us here in this world, but this hero is humble, often-unnoticed, yet capable of amazing things.

Jesus likes stories. In Luke 13, he tells two to help explain what God's Kingdom is like. And it has more than a little in common with the understated heroes of our own comic book stories.

The Kingdom of God … is like a mustard seed, which a man took and threw into his own garden; and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches. (v. 19)

The Kingdom of God… is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened. (v. 21)

Jesus taught so much with simple words and examples. "Pay attention," he said through his stories, "otherwise you might miss what God is doing."

It may be the opportunity to invite a neighbor to church or an open door to share personally about why God is important in your life. It may be an opportunity to serve God in the church or in the neighborhood. It may be a need that you become aware of that you have the resources to address in Christ's name. It may be a new sense of the importance of prayer. It may be responding to a call of God on your life – saying 'yes' to serve or obey God.

God's presence and Kingdom is humble and does not demand attention; sometimes, it is even hidden. Like Underdog's "Shoeshine Boy" or like Clark Kent, many other things will seem more attractive, more powerful, and more worth your attention. But God's presence and power, embodied in His Kingdom, changes everything around it, including the lives of those who seek and serve Him. And when we are changed, we begin to leaven – to introduce God-change – to the neighborhood and world around us.

Read the whole sermon HERE
Listen (for the next few weeks) HERE

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