“He has chosen the lowly things of this world: the despised ones and those who are not, to bring to nothing the things that are” (1 Corinthians 1:28). It isn’t just my heart’s tattoo; I really believe it’s one of the most important prophecies of the Bible. Jesus was the ultimate despised one, a king whose reign is defined precisely by his utter social rejection. When we are truly saved, we become despised ones with Jesus, being “crucified together with Christ” so that “it is no longer [we] who live but Christ who lives in [us]” (Galatians 2:19-20). What are we saved from? Legitimacy, which is “friendship with the world [and] enmity with God” (James 4:4), since it is a declaration of independence from God. How do the despised ones that Paul describes “bring to nothing the things that are”? By destroying the categories of legitimacy constructed by the normal majority (a.k.a. “the world”) as a substitute for reliance on God’s mercy.
It’s probably not best practice for a preacher to say this publicly, but my sermon this weekend was pretty awful. I think it’s because I’ve psyched myself out thinking that my congregation isn’t interested in the esoteric, mystical theological nerdiness that I care about, so I got tangled up in knots trying to figure out how to craft a relevant message instead of listening to what God had given me to say, which is why it never came together. So first I wanted to say I’m sorry to anyone who was there. And I wanted to try to write now what I should have pulled together more coherently before I stood up in front of God’s people. What I wanted to say in my sermon is that the Bible is so much more than a reference manual or a rulebook; the reason it’s called “God-breathed” is because God wants to use it to make our existence inspired, which means to live in the freedom and delight of His breath.
I read a very disturbing post on Patheos by a woman named Libby Anne who grew up with parents who were influenced by the parenting philosophy of Michael and Debi Pearl. The Pearls are very popular in the homeschooling world; they could be described as an extreme version of Focus on the Family’s Dr. James Dobson. The idea is that your most important task as a parent is to break the will of your child so that they will be obedient. My four-year old Isaiah is a very strong-willed child, and I often let him get his way, so I would fail Michael and Debi Pearl’s parenting class if I were taking it. Continue reading
Sermon preached at Burke UMC LifeSign service 10/8/2011
Text: Deuteronomy 10:12-22
Many of you know that I have been coaching my son’s soccer team this fall. Not only do I not know what I’m doing, but my son is often uninterested in kicking the ball or even staying on the field. Our game last Saturday was cold and rainy. The other team’s coach and I decided to play anyway since we’ve had so many games rescheduled because of weather. One kid on my team is a beast who attacks the ball no matter where it is and keeps running the entire 8 minute quarter. I’m often reluctant to pull him out of the game. Well in the third quarter, he was starting to run out of steam, so the next time the ball went out of bounds, I took out our star player and put in my son. Continue reading