I am somewhat humbled by the responses, emails, and comments I have gotten over the last couple of weeks concerning the series I am preaching. ANTI is a series in which we are tackling some real issues that are tough, sensitive, and honest. This series has been an emotionally charged and draining series for me. The toughest part of dealing with these types of issues as a pastor is being real, personal, and honest. Authenticity and transparency are necessary when you speak to the issues that people struggle with in their daily lives.
Over the past two weeks (since I last blogged) we have dealt with sexual immorality and divorce. The Bible has much to say about these issues. The truths of these issues are hard to face because we know the reality of life. The Church as we know it has not addressed such issues in a Biblical manner. Sure we have heard things are wrong, but have we heard why or what to do about it or how to treat someone when they have failed. The truth is that too often we tiptoe around such issues because we are afraid to offend someone or we bash people about these issues because we enjoy offending people. Either way, the Lord is not pleased.
So over the last two weeks I have tried to approach some sensitive issues that are raw and real in the lives of people in personal and honest manner that allows people to deal with the reality of where they are. The right reasons for dealing with these issues are because of their response to God not because of their response to me or my opinions or condemnations.
I think the most encouraging things I have heard have been from those who have dealt with some of these issues directly. One person simply told me after the sermon on sexual immorality “I wish I would have heard that sermon when I was 16.” Another person simply wrote, “I’m thankful you had the courage to send a positive and truthful message to our teenagers of what God’s word says about sex and some tips on how to deal with compromising situations, but also that our church is here to help them and not condemn them. They need that. “
The last email really hit me as I heard from one person in the congregation. They said, “If I would have heard the sermon on pornographic material when I was a younger man, I wouldn’t of had to struggle with what became a full-blown addiction by age 16. I don’t know how many people are telling you how good you are doing, but trust me; you are affecting everyone in the service because no Christian deals with murder on a daily basis, we deal with the things that the modern church is afraid to speak of.”
This blog is not about me or the wonderful job I am doing. I don’t necessarily even agree with that part. I do believe, however, that people need the church to be real and honest and open and to the point about issues the church has either said nothing about or has simply ranted and railed about. It is time we just opened up tough topics with grace and love and laid out the truth.
I challenge church leaders to step out there. Honestly, it is a little unnerving to stand in front of a group of people and be real about the issues of sexual immorality, divorce, etc. It is hard to do, but it is worth it. The feedback I get makes it worth it.
Here are some things you have to do it…
- Be real. If you can’t be real about you, you can’t help others be real about them.
- Say what is there; not what is not there. Speak to what the Bible says not what it does not say.
- Don’t hold back on any truth.
- Be full of grace and mercy. After all, Jesus was.
- Don’t apologize. We cannot apologize for the standard Jesus died to attain for us.
So I challenge Christians to ask themselves these tough questions…
- What am I for? Not what am I against?
- Do I define my spiritual life by what I do not do? Or by what I do?
This week’s sermon will have a little bit of an interesting twist to end the series. I hope you will be there. If you are interested in hearing the past sermons here is the link to my podcast. They are titled under ANTI – and honestly they are a tad long. I would say I am sorry about that, but I am not.