Unlikely Sermons


I’ve been blessed this week to hear two wonderful sermons. Each was spontaneous; neither was in church. I was simply there when a man, and later a woman, was compelled to share God’s truth and to challenge to another to a better way.
One sermon was directed to a man; a man in a difficult situation. The situation was caused by his own behavior, then made worse by well-intentioned but unwise actions. But someone cared enough for this
young man to give of his own time and resources to help. And in that context, the helper gave a short, succinct, but powerful sermon.

The helper, who knows the family well, said something like this to the young man, “I want you to be the kind of man your family wants you to be; be the kind of man they know you can be.” But he went on; “I know you read the Bible; you have one right there beside you. I know you have faith in God, and you are trying to learn and believe the right things. But I want to challenge you to stop just reading and learning
the Bible. I want to see you do what it says. Turn the other cheek. Be a peacemaker instead of being a fighter; let God handle things instead of trying to settle everything your way. Practice doing the things you say you believe.”

That’s a pretty powerful message. There’s plenty there to keep any of us busy for a month of Sundays. And it was especially powerful because it was delivered in the context of life and need – not in a special
place on a special day, removed from so much that goes on around us. And it was given by someone giving of himself to the one in need.

Later the same day, I learned from another friend how God had allowed her to confront someone engaging in criminal behavior against her. But rather than report the action, rather than retaliate – even in a
perfectly legal and moral way – she used the situation as an opportunity to share how Jesus Christ calls us to honor Him in our lives, to forgive those who wrong us, and to demonstrate God’s grace in us to others. And my friend did that toward the one who had wronged her. After confronting, then forgiving; my friend continued her relationship with the other person. And then, a short time later, learning of a special need in the other’s life, she gave generously to meet that need.

These sermons weren’t given publicly; I was just privileged to hear them. They were not communicated in a “spiritual” setting; they flowed spontaneously from life and business. But these sermons challenge me
to be ready always – at work, in business, in routine life affairs – to speak the truth, to respond to the needs of others, and to live and share and practice the truth I profess to believe.

I only hope my life, my words, and my actions are a sermon worth sharing with others.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. James 1:21-23

Original article ran on 6/10/11.

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