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The Ultimate Challenge

Jesus challenges the dominant myths of our culture as he call us into his version of the abundant life.


A few years ago a representative from Teach America paid a visit to one of the premier university campuses—Duke. Teach America hires the brightest students and places them in some of the nation's worst public schools. So the representative stood before the crowd of Duke students and said, "I can tell just by looking at you that I've come to the wrong place. Somebody told me that this was the BMW school and I believe it. Just looking at you, I know you've achieved success and that you're on a track for even more success. Yet I'm here today to convince you to throw your life away in the toughest job that you'll ever have. I want people to go into the hollow of West Virginia and the ghettos of South Los Angeles to teach in the worst schools in America. Last year two of our teachers were killed on the job. But just by looking at you, I can tell that you're not interested. So go to grad school, make your millions, and live for success and comfort. But if by chance you're interested in the toughest job in America, I have a few brochures so come over and see me. Meeting's over." With that, those Duke students pushed into the aisles and mobbed that representative, signing up for more information.

I believe that deep down God has wired us for a sense of mission. A challenge-free life might be safe, but ultimately it's boring, trite, and empty. That's one of the things I love about Jesus: he can be so kind and gentle and (as we say in Minnesota) so nice; and then he can turn around and issue, without apology, a challenge that cuts to the core of our existence. That's what we have in this passage: I call it the Ultimate Challenge and it's found ...

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Matt Woodley serves as the Editor for PreachingToday.com and the Pastor of Compassion Ministries at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. He is also the author of God With Us: The Gospel of Matthew (IVP).

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Sermon Outline:


I. The fork in the road

II. Jesus challenges the myth of comfort

III. Jesus challenges the myth of safety

IV. Jesus challenges the myth of control

V. The rewards of The Ultimate Challenge