“God’s word comes to us in a very important, disruptive way. The danger is that we want to domesticate the word of God,” said the Rev. Dr. Mark A. Labberton, the Harold F. Reed Sr. chaplain for the week. Labberton is the Lloyd John Ogilvie associate professor of preaching and director of the Ogilvie Institute of Preaching at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. His sermon was “An Undomesticated God,” and his text was Matthew 18: 1-6; 18-23.
“I love my dog; he is a domesticated animal. Every morning I ask my family what they are going to do that day, and they are full of ideas and hopes,” Labberton said. “I ask my dog what he is going to do, and he is always a dog; he is always going to be a dog. But we want to be more than human, or we are less than human. Our central challenge is to let God be the true and living God who is not domesticated, is not under our thumb, or our doctrine or our personality.”
Matthew is the perfect place to begin, Labberton said. Matthew drew from the Hebrew Scripture and looked back on the history of Israel.
Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus was “hardly the place to find the undomesticated God. It is the account of the bluest blood that can be,” he said. “There are many characters that could be sermons in themselves. But the most dramatic punctuation marks are Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba. We would not have expected to find them here. They are not the people who get named at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Maybe in the kitchen afterward or in the hall beforehand, but these are the people we tell the children not to mention at the table.