One Problem With My Sermons (Chris Francis)
There are many tensions in the bible, where it seems like we are told different things that don’t necessarily contradict each other, but do push against each other. For example, we’re told that God is sovereign but humans have free will; we’re told that God hates sin but lovingly runs after sinners; we’re told that God accepts us as we are but refuses to let us stay there.
Often times Christians like to emphasize one side of the coin and ignore the other side. That leads to an extreme that doesn’t accurately reflect who God is.
I personally get ticked when people only want to talk about one side of any Scriptural coin, but I have realized that I am often guilty of that in my preaching. In any one sermon, I can only preach about one side of a tension. I don’t always have time to qualify it (sometimes I dont even think to qualify it). Some bible passages are heavy grace. Other passages are heavy “pick up your cross and follow Jesus.” And to only hear one side of the coin can cause someone to think, “but wait a second…isn’t there something else in the bible that sounds different….”
In fact, recently in a sermon I was talking about how God was trying to interrupt my Me-time, and I didn’t want him to. And I came home that afternoon and Jess said something like, “I get your point, but you made it sound like Me-time is always selfish. And I don’t think it is. And I don’t think you meant to say that it is, but it sounded it like it.”
And she was right.
And as a teacher, I hate it when I might cause confusion.
But as a pastor, it reminds me of the importance of being plugged into community (and at True Life, that comes primarily through life groups). Because in community, we can wrestle through questions, we can honestly ask each other, “Yeah but how does that apply to my situation? What about when Jesus said ___.”
Heck, I would even argue that Jesus intentionally confused people at times, like in Mark 4 when he told the parable of the 4 soils. And He did it so that those who really want to understand would press in and ask questions and do the work of trying to understand.
I know my sermons often raise questions. Truth is, they raise questions for me too. I need people I can discuss things with, ask questions with, wrestle through Scripture with.
So the point is — understanding how any one passage of the bible fits into the overall story of God is a team effort. Get in – or stay in, or get back to — a life group!