This past Sunday's sermon was a perfect example of why I love Christ Central Church. We are going through I Corinthians and had come to chapter 6 verses 9-20. If you do take the time to listen to it, do so first without your kids around; then you can decide later if you'd like to have them listen. Some serious things are covered here. http://www.christcentralchurch.com/ The Promise of Sexual Freedom - Feb 21, 2010
As Pastor Howard began he got right to it and addressed our hearts. He was going to discuss those sins mentioned in the text, most particularly the sin of homosexuality. He brought out into the light our secret thoughts,
"Alright now! Come on and give it to 'em! It's about time! Nobody talks about this, and somebody needs to say something! Let's hear it!"
He's right, that's how we feel. Maybe you don't, but I confess I do and so does practically everyone else I know. As he went on, I considered how he and Giorgio always bring it back to the gospel - I was rather curious as to how that was going to be accomplished with this message. Not that I doubted it could... it was more like a feeling of anticipation, but there was definitely curiosity.
I really think I need to go back and listen to this sermon again - in fact, I want to, as uncomfortable as it was to listen to the first time. Because over the past two days since then, my thoughts have returned to his words and gone over them repeatedly. And in the end, what Howard inspired in us without ever saying the word, was compassion. And even empathy. I rarely agree with every word someone says and this past Sunday was no exception, but these were the Lord's words to us, of that I am sure.
The woman caught in adultery comes to mind, though he did not reference her. Throughout this sermon, I found myself identifying. I have been the woman who has been caught in her sin and has crouched shamefully in the dirt. I have been those men, angrily incensed over sin and demanding of retribution. But I don't know that I have felt quite like Christ, regarding this particular sin, as I did this past Sunday morning.
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more."
John 8: 3-11
I was moved to contemplation and an extension of grace towards the sinner. I felt the love and mercy of the Savior beat in my heart, and a desire to lift up the offender, care for their woundedness, and encourage them in a walk towards the more that is found in Christ. That is what is meant by sanctification, the transforming work whereby we are made holy as He is holy. Thank you, Pastor Howard, for being His instrument in our lives, showing us our inadequacy in loving others as He does, and how deeply I need Him that I might be anything like my Savior.