I preached a sermon this past weekend at a small church. The last time I preached at this church I read a story that I had written, a fictional re-telling of certain episodes of Jesus and Peter’s relationship. That was a lot of fun, but I decided a normal, “real”, sermon would be in order this time around.
I decided that I would pick one image of how God relates to us humans, then choose a few stories from Jesus’s life to illustrate that image. Initially I began thinking about using an escalator as an image. I was fascinated with the idea that humans think of religion in terms of steadily rising towards the heavens, growing more and more glorious until they basically get to heaven on their own. That is how I planned to open the sermon, then I would twist it and say that Christ came to challenge this exact idea. Christ came to prove that the escalator only goes down, from heaven to earth, and that the primary relationship between us and God is his humiliating descent to us in Christ, and not our glorious ascent to him in heaven. Christ coming to us, as you can see, leaves both the glory and the responsibility in God’s hands. This frees us as Christians to humbly admit our passive involvment in our salvation (and become more honest people), and this frees us of the responsibility to obsess over how much we are achieving spiritually (and become more hopeful people). It is God’s responsibility and God’s glory. We are free.
That is the sermon I didn’t preach. I read this blog post and decided that my (famous) mentor’s image was easier to lay out considering the fact I hadn’t preached in a good while.
I chose “One-Way Love” as the guiding image. I didn’t extrapolate all of the ideas about escalators, but I relayed them on here because I believe they are powerful images. The one-way stuff (like much of what comes from Tullian’s theological mind) is easily grasped and very naturally flows into the gospel comfort that sinners are so desperate to hear.
I believe the sermon was recorded, so I will post the mp3 when I receive it. Then my readers can be the judge of how well the idea communicates.
Here it is in a nutshell if you have no intention to listen to my voice in the future: Christ came to proclaim that God’s primary mission is to send his love, no-strings-attached, unconditionally, one-way, to undeserving sinners. Like you. God isn’t waiting for your worthy, sacred, romantic, emotionally-riveting response. It’s okay to espress those things, but you must know that no transaction is required to cling onto Christ’s righteousness. It is a gift (Romans 3:23-25). For sinners. Like you. (That wasn’t really a nutshell summary. Things got out of hand there. But now I’m done.)