Lovely Sermon, Pastor!

I heard the story (I’m told it’s apocryphal) of a young pastor who, just out of seminary, was assigned to a little parish in a logging community in the northwestern part of the United States. Shortly after his arrival, he noticed a curious practice among the people of the town, including members of his own congregation. People were stealing the logs of others simply by cutting off the ends of the logs where their neighbor’s identification brands were burned into the wood.

Realizing that this was one of those things never talked about publicly, particularly during coffee hour, he preached a sermon on the eighth commandment entitled “Thou Shalt Not Steal.” People complimented him on the sermon with the usual remarks: “Lovely sermon, Pastor!” “It really spoke to me.”

But even after this, he noticed that his message didn’t have the slightest impact on the thievery. So he preached a second sermon entitled “Thou Shalt Not Cut the Ends Off Thy Neighbor’s Logs.”

After the worship service, the principal leaders gathered together privately. The pastor was voted out that afternoon.

It’s easy to attend worship services, and even be inspired by the reading of God’s word and hearing the message.

It’s so much easier to love the things of the world and enjoy the friendship it offers, rather than following the upward call in Christ. But the Bible warns us not to love the world:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever (1 John 2:15-17).

In Matthew 6:24, Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

As Christian men, fathers, or role models for those around you, what would your family say about you? I’m not talking about being perfect, none of us is. What I am asking is, if your family or friends could write an anonymous note about you, what would they say? How does your behavior inspire or discourage those around you? As Christians, we are called to be brilliant lights to those around us—our family, our community. We are called to be in the world, but not of it.

Let us make Romans 12:2 our prayer:

Lord God, help us not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of our mind, that by testing we may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

Avatar photo