My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!"

30 October 2005

Sunday Hello's

Hello readers, I hope you are well.

This morning Pastor Long preached on Christ's invitation to the thirsty, "come to Me and drink." He lined out clearly at least seven ways the world is led to thirst (e.g., our finiteness, our loneliness, our failures). And then he showed how the world has answers for each of these thirsts: for our finiteness, we mock; for our loneliness, we fornicate; for our failures, we read self-improvement books. But Jesus is the only final and full answer to the thirsts of humanity; the catch, though, is the humility it takes to come to Christ, the admission that there's nothing left, no more tricks up my sleeve, no more reasons to believe in myself.

I'm beginning to be more and more convinced of the centrality of humility to the godliness we are called to in Christ. We've seen it several times throughout Proverbs that God loves the humble but rejects the proud (this will be part of my sermon tonight), that fearing the Lord (how humbling is that!) is the beginning of wisdom. Beyond our fundamental orientation to God, though, humility seems to be the key in all relationships - just as pride is most often the harbinger of strife in relationships. In humility, we're convinced of both God's greatness and our ungreatness, of Christ's majesty and our unworthiness. In humility, we actually do consider others more important than ourselves (Phil. 2:3,4).

It's not that the world never attempts humility, they just do it pridefully; humanitarianism is one of our century's greatest sermons. But the world gets humility wrong because it still places someone, anyone, something, anything as the central, glorious, and majestic reality other than God. It sure sounds humble when we see men and women giving their whole lives to serve people in other countries through the Peace Corps. But apart from Christ, there is no true humility in it; either they are doing it to secretly bolster their case in God's courtroom, or because they really believe that humanity is the best thing going. Whether ultimately serving ourselves or serving others without respect for their Creator, pride reigns during these last days.

But in Christ we have the keys to humility. We have the powerful, fruit-bearing Spirit of Christ. We have the revelation of God made clear to our hearts, the revelation of the Awesome and Holy One. We have weekly worship, which is nothing if it is not an act of great humility. And we have the best reason to serve others selflessly: because of whose they are, because of who made them and owns them.

Several times during our sermon series in Proverbs, I've told the congregation that humility is simply an accurate view of reality, an accurate assessment of who God is and who we are. So may God make our hearts and minds see clearly what is real and true and may He save us from delusions about ourselves or others.

I'm preaching tonight about foolishness (yes, again). Turns out Proverbs keeps bringing up this subject for some good reasons. It makes it somewhat easier to read Proverbs when we remember that it is a collection of wisdom from a father to a son. All good fathers know how often they must repeat themselves for the message to sink, for their sons to get it; for truths and matters not natural to us, repetition is key.

God knows this because, well, He made us. And so He repeats Himself to us. Every week, in fact, He repeats Himself to us, showing forth the gospel in His worship, calling us to remember and review through the sacraments what He has done for us. There really aren't that many novelties in Scripture; for most of you there aren't that many sermons you haven't heard before. But that's really okay. The idea of preaching is not entertainment, but feeding. You didn't sit down to breakfast this morning and think, "Well, I ate yesterday. This is getting so repetitious." Likewise, we don't sit at the Lord's feet on Sunday and think, "Well, we heard about Christ last week, I could totally be watching a football game now."

This is not to say that we don't learn new-to-us information from Scripture; but it is to say that one of preaching's most important jobs is not lecturing, but reminding. That is what I am, a reminder. An aid in remembrance. Sure, you'll learn, because you haven't learned everything yet. But more than that, you'll be reminded, called back by a loving and graciously repetitious Father. Teenagers may be notorious for rolling their eyes when parents repeat themselves - do we commit the same sin to our Father by wanting something new instead of something old? Do we roll our eyes by not submitting to the Scriptures we have heard from childhood?


James I. Faris said...

May God give you grace, then, in your preaching such that people do not have to say "What an aweful reminder you are!"

ellyn olivetti said...

As a person who does not remember a day when I did not know Christ as Savior, I can say that I still learn new things every week - in life, in church and through the Word. So, there may not be new things being preached but sometimes you really hear something for the first time.

And what a calling - to be a reminder for Christ!

James I. Faris said...

Just glanced at this again - should be awful, not aweful. As you can see I was meant to be an oral reminder rather than a writer.

Tamara Rose said...

dang it! ugg ok i just left a really really really nice long like suppper long comment and its gone!!!!!!!!!!! uggggg i donno what happend to it!!!!!!!!!! ugggers!!! i'm so mad!! ok well any way i guess i will live but i spent a really LONG time on that comment! crud! ok well sorry this is a really bad comment but i promis i had a really good one!!!

tom.vd said...

Loved the phrase "zoo of fools." It reminded me of "Ship of Fools" (though I've never seen/read it) and the Zoo of Death in Princess Bride. There's also a Far Side cartoon showing a pair of scientists looking through a window at a room full of oddly dressed people, one scientist saying to the other "Of course they are fools... the question is, what kind of fools are they?"