I wouldn’t have thought that our sermon on redemption would’ve led me where it did, but I’m definitely glad it did.
We have a unique way of sermon and service planning at The Chapel that we’ve been doing about 15 months (and I’ll share in more detail that process one day). For now, though, what is important to know is that we actually outline our sermon about two-and-a-half weeks prior to when we preach it. It’s usually very helpful. Sometimes it isn’t. What you don’t realize is that, on Sundays like yesterday, the outline was supposed to be finished the week Abram was born. I wasn’t at work that week, so. . .
Yeah. . . didn’t happen.
On weeks like that, Kevin and I have to lean on each other to get what we need done. But it leaves me (or him) a little disconnected from the sermon at times. This past Sunday was one of those for me. On Saturday, I found myself still trying to get my head around the concept of redemption and then seeking to communicate it in a way that made sense.
Then I remembered a book that I was given when I went to the Desiring God Conference for Pastors (the same one where the Lord changed my heart about family worship).
So, like anyone needing help late in the game on a sermon, I read it. And God used it in a great way. (Reader beware: this book on redemption might have thrown you off track. Don’t read that one. At least not to help you understand the redemption we’re talking about.)
While not a theological treatise on the concept of redemption (which I feared the sermon might be, turning me into a lecturer and not preacher), it helped tremendously. The book itself goes more into issues of dealing with situations such as addiction, abuse, and anything in between, but it gave me what I needed to own the sermon. And that was this:
At Your Worst, God Gives His Best
That is actually the whole third chapter of the book (and Mike Wilkerson writes it better than I can preach it), but it allowed me to launch into the beauty of redemption in a way I wasn’t planning to otherwise. If we cannot truly see our own sinfulness, and any potential of sin and selfishness resident within us, we cheapen Christ’s redemption because we lessen the price of our salvation. We spend our days hiding sin rather than reveling in grace, and we, in not so many words, tell God that the high cost to buy us out of slavery was, in effect, unnecessary because we “weren’t that bad” to begin with.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Pornography. Adultery. Lies. Anger. Alcoholism. Abuse. Murder. Mistakes. Rape. Abortion. Cheating. Over-eating. Laziness. Anxiety. Fear. Impure motives. Impure thoughts. Bulimia. And a host of other things reside, in one way or another, in every one of our hearts. We sometimes wonder if anyone could truly forgive the worst of us.
Jesus can, and He has. And He has paid the price for our restoration with Him. What we need is faith.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Christian, you have a blood-bought relationship with God, paid by God himself, sustained by God himself, and initiated by God himself.
Even when you are at your ugliest. . .