Sunday, November 17, 2013

Preaching to the Choir

This is the first of a six part series in which I'm going to try to assume various personas, some of which I understand, and some of which I don't, in order to write from that point of view.  Today I'll be playing the part of an evangelical preacher, and this is his most recent sermon to his Sunday Congregation.
(All things are possible through God)
Good morning.  It's always a beautiful day when God's followers gather for worship, but it seems especially so today.  The sun seems more brilliant, the birds more cheerful, and the flowers much brighter.  God's bounty is with us this morning, and I ask that we all marvel in His work.
As Christ's people, it's our calling to carry forth His word to the world, conscious always of His saving grace.  There are many doubters out there, and much wickedness.  Sometimes it seems a yeoman's task to try and bring the gospel to the world, but it's a burden we should welcome.
Today we'll be talking about sacrifice and what that truly means.  Many of us think we sacrifice - we put down that extra slice of pizza, or we choose to come to church instead of watching the big game.  However, those examples are only illusory.  Real sacrifice comes from the example set by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We all know the story of how Christ died at Calvary and rose again to redeem the world, but do we really understand it?  To most it seems only a vague notion of death and resurrection, but there is much more to it than that - so very much more.
When God's people came out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, they were given a set of laws, and many of those laws involved animal sacrifice.  This was done as an offering to God to show thanks for what He had given.  Unfortunately along the way, the Israelites got so caught up in the letter of the law that they forgot its spirit.  They followed out of habit, leaving out understanding of what they were giving up to honor God.  A young bull that is burnt upon the alter isn't only one less animal for food, but also a sire who gives up generations hence.  God's people forgot that and focused only on what the Bible said to do without knowing what was behind the words.
So when Christ chose to die on the cross, when God said that he would sacrifice His only living son for us, it was a reminder about what He would give up for us because He loves us so.  The crucifixion showed that it's not the offering of some random beast that pleases God, but the spirit in which it is given.  That He gave His only begotten son to save the world showed the depth of God's sacrifice and serves as a reminder of what we must be willing to give up if we want to get closer to our Creator.
My friends, as you go out today into the world, remember not just God's law, but the meaning behind that law.  When God calls on us to put aside the pleasures of the earthly flesh for Him, recall why He does so.  It's not to deprive, but rather to demonstrate a purity of thought and intention that unites us with the very mind of our heavenly father.  Only when we show that we understand the real meaning of sacrifice can we demonstrate our faith not in this world, but in the one promised after it.  I pray that each of you takes this message to your friends and family and rescue them from the emptiness of earthly existence so that they may be saved by His grace.

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