Dear God, I am giving a sermon tomorrow morning at the Presbyterian church. It will be the first time I’ve done two Sundays in a rom, and I have felt the leading for a long time to give them a good serving of the Gospel–the Good News. But is it for them or is it for me?
A couple of years ago, I heard David Brooks say something that I’ve looked for online and I cannot find. He made the comment that Christians have this great message of grace, love, forgiveness, compassion, etc., but what we communicate to the world as a group is that all we really care about is what happens in their bedrooms. While I think there is a call to a certain level of purity by you and that cannot be overlooked (for example, porn is extremely toxic and dangerous), I completely agree with this thought. We do have this great message to give people.
I just stopped in the middle of writing this to see if I could find that David Brooks quote. I didn’t find it exactly, but I found a good interview with him. I found this quote in the middle of it: “Some of my more popular columns have been those about forgiveness, or the role of suffering, or what graciousness looks like. There’s a widespread hunger to hear people talk about those issues. When you touch upon those themes, I think, ‘I’m not the only person out there who is wrestling with these things and troubled by them or comforted by them.”
Later in the interview with him, the interviewer asked, “To grasp the beauty of a love for thngs that are unlovable, you have to recognize yourself as unlovable. If we don’t want to reckon with sin, is it possible to see grace?
Brooks replied, “I think you have to have a sense that you’re loved beyond what you deserve. I think we experience grace both in this world and in a divine sense when we have messed up and don’t deserve to be forgiven but are. That’s when grace becomes shocking.
So with all of that said, let’s look at the passage I have set out for tomorrow after praying to you and see if I can make some sense of the message you want me to share.
Exodus 34:29-35: When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the LORD had given him on Mount Sinai. // When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever he entered the LORD’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD.
2 Corinthians 3:7-18: Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!//Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over this face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Matthew 11:28-30 [Jesus speaking] “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Father, it’s time for me to start to work on my outline, but I think it’s going to come down to this. We need to be reminded of what you are offering us and what we accepted:
- Forgiveness of our sins and freedom from our shame
- Peace to know that the circumstances in our physical world are all under your control, whether them seem to be working out for us or against us
- Hope that even if tomorrow isn’t better, in the end, we win!
- Joy that is driven by the freedom, the peace, and the hope
Then we need to be reminded that this is what we have to offer others. We have it to offer our friends and acquaintances. And as a church, they have it to offer their neighborhood and our community.
We aren’t selling morals and judgment. We aren’t selling condemnation. What we are selling is the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. And the only cost for the person is a willingness to humbly confess their sin before you, turn from their sin as they know it, and then pursue you. If those things happen, it won’t necessarily be an easy life, but the trials will shape us, and the fruit will be love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness, goodness, and self-control. Who wouldn’t buy some of that?
In Jesus’ name I pray,