Thursday, May 20, 2010

Preaching is the easy part

This past Sunday, my sermon, based upon the story of Paul and Silas singing hymns in prison, encouraged us to sing songs of joy in the midst of suffering. Six years into this preaching thing, I’ve learned that every sermon should come with a disclaimer: What I’m about to say is easier said than done. Case in point, when I arrived home from Sunday’s service I immediately noticed a mildew-like stench in the house. I groaned. We’d had a leak the night before that had spread from the kitchen into the living room. We’d spent hours cleaning it up and setting out fans, doing everything you’re supposed to do. I thought we’d cleaned it all up. And yet, here was this smell convincing me we had not. I searched and prodded and sniffed and discovered another wall the water had penetrated. I started ripping off even more baseboards. In my head I was totaling up the expenses and time that would be required to set this all straight. Just then Alyson walked by and asked, “So, still singing that song?”

She was smiling when she asked it, and meant it as a joke, and I guess I’m at least glad she was listening to the sermon. But as with anything that strikes straight to the heart, I found it more convicting than amusing. We all know that reading and talking about the gospel are a lot easier than living the gospel out. I mean, if I have trouble remaining joyful with something as insignificant as having to repair the flooring in my house, how will I do with even greater struggles? Preaching is the easy part, living, now that’s where the true work begins.

My wife’s comment, which I can now laugh along with, reminds me that true discipleship doesn’t just happen on Sunday mornings, but rather, every other moment of the week. Sunday mornings matter because that’s where we encounter God’s presence together as a community of faith and our hearts are opened to new possibilities through the Spirit of God. But Sunday mornings must inform and affect our Sunday afternoons through Saturday evenings if we are actually to become more like Jesus. Our faith, to borrow a phrase from Eugene Peterson, is a pedestrian way. It requires not just the worship of Christ, but walking along after him during the week. It’s here in the rough and tumble of everyday life, in leaky pipes and sarcastic spouses that we have the chance to practice what we preach. We won’t always get it right the first time – but we trust that even in times we miss the mark – God is through his grace getting it right in us.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk in him –Col 2:6..

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