My family has begun the search for a church. We had the most wonderful church experience for the last six and a half years, but we’re now in a new city and are looking for a new fellowship. We’ve visited a few places and have largely enjoyed ourselves. Our expectations aren’t very unrealistic, I don’t think, in that we don’t really have any.
One thing, however, has struck me. The sermons that we’ve heard have been left, for the most part, in the abstract. They didn’t “land” in the real world of our lives.
I think I’ve agreed with pretty much everything that I’ve heard over the last several weeks. It would be difficult to disagree. We’ve heard that we need to “let God carry us” and that we should “seek to serve God and not ourselves.”
But we didn’t hear much about how we could do these things. We were given little help with envisioning concrete embodiments of these abstract principles.
What does it mean that Jesus has broad shoulders, and that when life gets tough we need to let him carry us? When I hear this, I tend to think, “yes, pastor, I agree that Jesus has broad shoulders and I have confidence that if I needed carrying, he is up to it. But this last week I had a very stressful encounter and I would have loved to let Jesus carry me through that. I really could have used Jesus’ shoulders at that moment. But how would that happen? How do I access that dynamic? Is there a button? A series of hand signals? How does that reality break into my situation and reconfigure it? I don’t doubt that I need God’s help and that he can give it, but how do I go about getting it?”
Now, I don’t want to pile on pastors. Ministry is tough and it’s too easy to be critical.
So, here’s my question: When have you heard a sermon that interpreted your life theologically, transformed your vision with hope, and did this in a way that gave you insight in how to act redemptively? Has that ever happened? What was it about that sermon that was helpful?