Yesterday, I preached a sermon from the gospel of Luke, chapter 15. The “holy people” of Jesus’ day were grumbling about him spending time with “sinners.” Elsewhere in the same book (Luke 7…especially verses 31-35), Jesus knew that people were calling him a glutton and a drunk, because he was spending time with such people. Jesus goes on to tell two stories: one about a man who loses a sheep, and one about a woman who loses a coin. You can read it here.
If you’ve been around church for a while, you have probably heard sermons on this before. I tried to do something different with this, at least different for me. I asked us to imagine being in the audience and hearing these parables for the first time. I wanted us to imagine being the “holy people,” the people who spent most of their lives trying to do the right thing, maintain a relationship with God, and set up boundaries in our lives in order to maintain that relationship. How might we have heard those stories?
When I put myself in the sandals of the Pharisees, the sect of Judaism that was trying to live out the law of God as best they could, I found that these stories, probably would make us begin to ask questions like these:
Do I think that God celebrates like that over people I see as “outside” the church? Do I know this God of celebration?
When did I lose that sense of celebration, and when did I lose that urgency to share the hope that I have?
I said some other thingsyesterday as well. But I think this does it better. Today, I came across a video from Michael Stewart, who is the Founding Director of Verge Network and Conferences( http://www.vergenetwork.org/)
The video features three segments that say what I was trying to say yesterday, in more compelling and clear ways. These short videos get to the heart of our resistance to share, but also how simple it might be to introduce people to follow Jesus. Here is the video link: http://www.vergenetwork.org/lp/barriers/