God Ruined My Rage-Filled Sermon Devoid of Grace
This week we saw thousands of Christian young people gather around the pole. “See you at the pole” is a chance for Christian students to gather for prayer around the flag pole at their local public school. It is a brave chance to show the world just how much we treasure Christ. It takes courage to do.
At Rock County Christian School, we too took part in the event. However, at our school, it was a required event – no courage needed. The event falls on Wednesday, our chapel day. As I prepared my chapel message, I felt the need to make mention of this fact. Where is our courage? Where is our willingness to stand up for God and let our testimony shine? I was amped up!
Soon after I began writing I started to feel a bit uneasy. The sermon was coming along great. I was going to let these neither-hot-nor-cold, apathetic kids have it! I was going to challenge them to take a stand and do great things for the Lord! I was on a roll, but this uneasy feeling seemed to grow. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I knew there some just wasn’t right.
All of a sudden conviction hit me like a truck. It dawned on me, there was no sense of grace in my message. My message was more a product of anger than it was Biblical study and prayer. I knew what these kids were lacking and I was going to beat them over head with it. Memories of leaving church feeling discouraged and “verbally abused” came flooding back to my mind. Not only that, but I had basically reverted back to my old fundamentalist days which focused merely on “preaching for decisions.” I was looking to merely produce external morality that would make our student body look good. No grace, no understanding, and no God.
The Lord brought Romans 15:1 to mind, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” In my rage, I failed to consider if my sermon would actually encourage anyone to deepen their relationship with the Lord. In fact, had they really listened to this message, they would have taken away the idea they themselves had to summon up the courage and produced their own righteousness to display to the outside world. What a horrible message to send! While seeking to make our Christian school look better, I was actually denying the very gospel that makes us Christian in the first place!
Starting over from square one, I would then proceed to write out a new message. While I still launched an attack against an all too comfortable, easy-believism faith that results in nothing, I challenged students to cling to grace and run toward Christ. True, saving faith that results in the works we desire to see is only the product of Christ working within us. This ought to be a great encouragement to renounce our sin and embrace the gospel grace that changes the hearts and lives of such sinful people. The men and women of Hebrews 11 are not merely heroes to emulate, but sinners whose faith was counted as righteousness. They accomplished great works for God, but this was despite their sin and many failures. Their strength was not merely an inward resolve to serve, but the product of a faith that had its anchor in Jesus.
I am truly humbled that God will be gracious enough to ruin my message. May He do so again and again. I will need it! I have a lot to learn…