A few belated thoughts from Wednesday …
First, Paul Osteen’s sermon last weekend must have been popular. When I got to the bookstore on Wednesday, I was told they were out of CDs from it and to check back after the service when they might have some replacements. Afterwards …. still no replacements. That’s a shame since it was a great sermon. But on the plus side, if they burn a few more CDs of it for this weekend, it could be like getting two sermons for the weekend instead of just one.
The second point, I tread cautiously on … It might be an understandable shortcoming that a blog like this, run by someone who goes to one church two times a week might be understandably laudatory of each and every sermon. But what would be enlightening about reading each week: “Great sermon”?
All that to lead up to this: Wednesday’s sermon was an example of the type that I tend to not savor as much as I’d hope to. Doesn’t mean it was bad, just that there’s something worth noting about it that doesn’t speak to me. Doesn’t mean it was a waste of time …. anything but. It also isn’t to suggest that I find greater fault in a Lisa Comes sermon than anyone else’s. One glance at the home page ought to indicate to an attentive reader that it’s a Lisa Comes sermon that once served as the final nudge to even begin this blog. And yes, there have been other sermons by other pastors at the same church that I’ve sat through and thought, “How does this relate to me?” without having an easy answer by the time I left. Taken together, they’re all in the minority.
Wednesday’s sermon was about listening to the voice of God and following it. Fine and well, but it was put in the context of Luke 5:1-11 … do it “because [God] says so.” I’m not here to refute the inherent logic of listening to God or even doing what He calls us to do. Far from it. But I get a sense that calls to do something because we’re told to do not fully address the rebellious nature that at least some of us have (and some more than others). Perhaps because I fully accept my own sense of rebelliousness (as imperfect of a shortcoming that it may be), I should note that calls to do something because I’m told to do them really don’t move me to action very well. Clearly, there are times when we get carried away in our rebelliousness. But there are also times when God uses our rebelliousness.
I’m reminded of a an online post somewhere, written recently by an atheist who loved to watch religious programming. One enterprising evangelist offered him a platform to give his take on various churches. The post in question covered a range of televised pastors. And in it, he noted that pastors that suggest this atheist do something because God tells him to likely aren’t going to reach him in any meaningful way. But he noted Joel’s ability to give an example that reframed the matter in a way that at least made him a little more interested in following up in some regard – be it reading the Bible reference in question for more info, or actually following one of God’s universal commands.
Now, I realize that a Wednesday sermon at Lakewood has a different audience than a weekend sermon. It’s more of an opportunity to teach and go into more depth with an internal audience. But if I were to conclude that we each (Christian and otherwise) don’t possess at least a little bit of this same rebellious spirit, I’d be neglecting what I sense is an incredibly wide swathe of human behavior.
There were tangents of the sermon that I left with wanting to read up more once I got home. But there is a sense of practicalness that I sense was missed in it at the same time. Perhaps in that light, it was a magnificent sermon due to the amount of follow-up questions it left at least me with. What compels me to note this sermon this time is the way in which it left me.
My sense is that there’s perhaps a whole other sermon, by someone far better than I to deliver it, discussing ways in which our rebellious spirit has to be overcome. And maybe even those in which maybe it should be heeded. The Apostle Peter (the very one quoted for the sermon title) is my favorite for that last reason. It’s hard to suggest that the guy who lopped off an ear of a soldier right there in Jesus’ presence was anything less than rebellious. Jesus’ relationship with Peter is all the more interesting to me because of how it puts that rebellious spirit into context.
We’re instructed in the Bible to guard our hearts, to not conform to this world, to anticipate suffering in this world for our faith. We’re told in church that common sense and wisdom (two terms that Lisa did include in this context) are certainly allowable so long as we do not fully “lean upon our own understanding.” But how we discern God’s voice and filter a variety of thoughts through “common sense” or “wisdom,” to me at least, necessitates at least a few ounces of rebelliousness. Enough so to at least pause and say “no,” “maybe,” “not yet,” “I’m going to need more information,” or “let me pray on that” from time to time.
I don’t really have a blog-sermon of sorts to put that fully into context of Christian Living. So, for now, I just note my one, singular reaction to Lisa’s sermon from Wednesday. Of course, I’d also be remiss to point out that the very same Apostle Peter went on to write in his first book of the Bible about self-control and living a life fully attuned to God’s will. Peter certainly lived with his rebellious ways, all while doing things “because you say so.” I suspect there’s a great message there over how those two elements intersected. I suspect I’d be pretty interested in hearing it, too. Not necessarily because anyone tells me to, of course.