catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 9, Num 14 :: 2010.07.09 — 2010.07.22


The word-free sermon

My uncle crossed the road toward where I was standing with a friend and pulled his construction pouch back around his waist. “I thought you were going to the church, to the prayer meeting,” said my friend. My uncle’s response? “I thought I would just come back over here instead and put some skin on my prayers.”

In that moment, my uncle preached a sermon more powerful than most I have heard delivered from a pulpit. In the ensuing years, it has spoken the truth of a Christ-filled life to my heart over and over again. He wore an old t-shirt and jeans, and had no congregation, but that eloquent preaching has echoed in my mind a thousand times. I always seem to come back to the idea of putting skin on my beliefs.

If sermons are meant to explore how to imitate Christ, what better way of preaching than just going ahead and living it out? Sermons without words are by far the most powerful. Words can be hollow and cheap. I can tell you anything and hope you believe it. But no matter what I say, you won’t be inclined to believe me until I step up and start to live the things I “say” I believe. I have to put the faith I profess to have into action.

I tell my wife that I love her all the time, but if I run around with other women or abuse her, she’ll never believe me. If I am not interested in the things she is interested in and if I ignore the things I know she has affinity for, she will naturally question my love for her. Likewise, if she ignores me and does not attempt to be an active participant in my life, I will begin to think that her love for me is fading. Without actions, we would be talking about our love all the way to divorce court.

I know that Jesus was a fantastic speaker. I have no doubt that His words would have held us spellbound. We would have been able to listen for hours to His parables and His descriptions of the kingdom to come.  I also know that, as scripture records, He went around doing good things, healing people and forgiving their sins. I imagine that He would be the guy up at the crack of dawn to help you fill the U-haul and then He would stay late to make sure the moving boxes were put in the recycling bin. How do we know He loved people? You may say we know He loved people because He said He loved them. But I know He loved people because He showed it. He comforted Lazarus’s sisters when they mourned, He washed the feet of His disciples, He took time for a grieving mother and raised her son from the edead, He cast demons out of a possessed man, He gave sight to beggars, He healed lepers and on and on. He did things to show us that He loved, and by way of example, showed us what to do if we say that we love.

I have a heart for missions. My wife has the same heart. How do you know? I went to Ukraine with a mission team a few years ago and then we went on another mission as a couple last summer. We give money to care for a girl we met there and we are working to support another missionary who is on the ground right now. We show our love by being involved in the lives of people. All of our friends know we are passionate and sincere because we went and served. We acted on our desire to make a difference.

So let my uncle’s words sink in. Don’t just talk about your faith. Put some skin on it. Let the sermon you preach be a life lived for others in service to the God you say you love. No one will question your words when they see the reality of the sermon of your life.

your comments

comments powered by Disqus