My pastor gets all up in the Word, and so do his subs. I get a warm fuzzy feeling in knowing: I will be fed at my church on any given Sunday, regardless of who preaches.
When Mike Drewry preaches, it takes me weeks, sometimes, to process. He preached out of Mark 5:1-20 this last time, which is the story about Jesus's casting devils out of a man and into a herd of swine. Some of Drewry's excellent points include:
- Mark illustrates the condition of the demoniac only to emphasize the sovereign authority of Christ and the quality of salvation He brings. We should neither refuse belief in the demonic nor hold an unhealthy fascination with it.
- The enemy wants us maimed, killed, and destroyed.
- After Jesus casts out the devils, the former demoniac sits, wears clothes, and otherwise demonstrates that he is in his right mind. The locals respond with terror; they ask Jesus to leave. There are two types of people in this world: those who plead for Jesus to leave, and those who pray for Him to stay.
- Just like the former demoniac, everyone is reminded of his or her condition before conversion. Outside of Christ, there is no way to be free of satan.
- Jesus got in the ship not only because the locals asked Him to leave, but also because the Gadarenes was not his final destination.
- We should emulate the example of the former demoniac by evangelizing: by telling others what the Lord has done for us and how much mercy He's shown us.
- Jesus returns, later, to the same region where He feeds the masses. His audience at that time very likely includes people to whom the former demoniac has witnessed.
Meaty sermon, eh?
And here's one more point that--in my mulling over of Drewry's sermon--the Lord has whispered into my heart. Jesus does not say to the former demoniac (who wants to leave with Jesus): "Go home to thy friends, and tell them how sinful and wrong they are." Nor does He say: "Go home to thy friends, and tell them how powerful the enemy is (or was)."
Instead, Jesus says: "Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion to thee" (Mark 5:19b). And I understand, suddenly: just like Mark, we should focus on Christ. Not (wo)man and his or her sinful condition. Certainly not the enemy who seeks to destroy.
In terms of witnessing, we will accomplish more in sharing what the Lord has done for us than in pointing out others' sin.
Scripture bears this out. In fact, Jesus says, plainly: "Judge not, that ye be not judged" (Matthew 7:1). As stewards of gifts from the Lord, including our children, Jesus calls us to discern. ((Later in Matthew 7, He advises His disciples to beware of false prophets, also to know men based upon the "fruit" they bear (7:15-20)). But judgment and discernment are two different things.
I would argue: God wants us to exercise caution in deciding how to use the resources He's given us: time, energy (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, etc.), talents, money, and material possessions. He wants us make careful decisions in terms of whom we allow to speak into our lives. He wants us, undoubtedly, to keep our eyes open when it comes to our children and who may influence or touch them. These are matters of discernment.
But God does not want us to wag our tongues regarding who is bad, and why...who is sinful, and why...who is foolish, and why. He does not want us to beat others down by talking about how sinful they are or what idiots they are...whether to their faces, or behind their backs.
I can tell you, now: part of my New Year's resolution includes my adopting the attitude of Apostle Paul, who shares: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief" (I Timothy 1:15b).
And I don't feel like I can afford to wait until 2012 to say: I am among those sinners for whom Jesus was born into this terrible place of sin, and suffering, and death. He's cared enough to dust me off and scrub my soul of ugly things...not just once, but over and over. And over. I've turned my back on Him, but He's never once turned His back on me.
Whatever you've done, or are doing, or will do: Jesus--in His sovereign authority--can forgive you for it and save you from it. He can.