I am adding a new category to A Peculiar Pilgrim. I”m naming it Sunday Sermon Reflections. I believe the title is self explanatory, but let me give you the motivation for penning my thoughts on the morning message. It has been my experience that during a normal week someone will ask how church went Sunday morning. I brace myself for the inevitable follow up question, “What did your pastor preach on?” My heart beats a little faster and my mind races to scrap together bits and pieces of my broken memory in order to muster up a vague yet truthful response without sacrificing my reputation as a spiritual Christian. This is not to say that I don’t pay attention to the message or that the quality of the sermon isn’t adequate or that it somehow does not apply to me. It’s just – well… I just forget. I know, I know. You may say that if I thought highly of the preacher and his message then I couldn’t possibly forget. Or, to turn the tables, you may point the blame straight at the pastor, accusing him of doing his job so poorly that no one could remember his message. In truth, the answer really has a lot to do with over-saturation.
Let me explain.
I both listen to and read from a great variety of ministerial sources each week. I listen to MP3 sermons, radio talk shows and cultural commentaries. I read theological books, Christian blogs and devotions until my eyes melt. My mind and spirit are assailed by many voices every single day. While I don’t for a moment believe it is wrong to immerse myself in Christian teaching in all its available flavors, I do think it is high time to prioritize the messages according to the importance I believe God gives them. No offense to my fellow Christian bloggers (this applies to me, too) but blog reading must be relegated lower down the proverbial totem pole. My beloved books on theology must also give way to that which God has so graciously and lovingly set on my table to feast upon.
I’m speaking, of course, about his holy and precious word; the meat and drink of my spiritual life. The local church is God’s gift to me through Christ. It is there that God has ordained for me to partake in worship, scripture reading and its proper interpretation. It is the local church that acts as a means of receiving grace through word, baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The Lord has ordained that I receive his word through the servants he has appointed at my local church. The pastor studies and prays every week in order to hear from God and bring to us the word he has purposed for us. God prepares our hearts every Sunday to receive that word. By all means we should take that message seriously. It should penetrate our hearts and become firmly rooted there. The message from God is particular. It is for that particular group of believers for that particular moment to achieve an ordained end in the souls of God’s people. The sermon should be meditated on, turned over at all angles and vigorously applied in our lives to sanctify us in our daily walk.
This, of course, assumes that the local church is really a church, not one that calls it self such but refuses to faithfully preach the Gospel, of which it is to be a herald. The congregation’s dependence upon its elders cannot be overstated. A pastor who does not preach Christ and his glorious Gospel has forsaken his call and cutoff his sheep from their only source of nourishment. A shepherd who does not lead his flock to water, but instead drives them into arid lands is a murderer of souls on a massive scale.
We must give the Sunday message primacy in our lives. The pastor speaks to us prophetically every time he ascends the pulpit. He forth tells all God desires for us to know at that given moment for our benefit. We live in a wireless world that shrinks ever smaller with each passing day. We must remember that we are where we are by divine providence. We should narrowly focus first upon the society in which we live and minister within that sphere by first relying on the resources God has given us in the here and now. Then, we may broaden our focus and lend ear to those voices which exist outside our borders. Not every preacher can be a John Piper, John MacArthur or RC Sproul, but his job is no less significant and should be respected and honored, as he remains faithful to the duty to which he has been called.
I plan to honor the hard work of my local pastor by spending time every Sunday afternoon or (if I procrastinate) on Monday evening reflecting upon the message he has given us. I will give the passage cited, a quick summary of the main points and then reflect upon one (or more) of those points that made an impression upon me and how I must apply God’s truth to my everyday life. This will help me to break out of the pattern of thinking that “I sat, I listened, I conquered. Next!” These posts will resemble private journal entries, minus the ‘private’ part. My thoughts will be for all to read, but this is one of those projects where my readers are not the target audience. I am. Your welcome to take the journey with me, but my advice is to honor your own pastor and the God he speaks on behalf for. Pay special attention to the message he labors so hard to craft and seek out every nugget of truth contained within. Don’t stop there, though. Pray that the Lord will apply those truths to your life by grace, that you may walk in obedience and in communion with him ever more intimately.
Note: I hope to have my first reflection up sometime this evening.