On the Plains of Moab Blog
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February 6, 2012, 10:10 AM

An Illustration in Need of a Sermon Text!

That was a line I heard from a pastor friend:  "Hey, I've got this really great illustration..if only I could find a sermon text to go with it now!"

Hopefully that doesn't happen a whole lot in our pulpits!  But, when I was thinking through the flow of yesterday's message, this illustration just kept coming to the surface.  And, my response was, I really want to use it -- but, it is just too close to crossing the line that I have determined that I will never cross.

Alas, as the sermon got closer to completion, I realized that I was already past my self-determined sermon length boundary.  (I bet you didn't know I had one of those things, did you?!)  There just wasn't enough time to do the illustration.  In fact, I really didn't make any attempt to labor long on application.  I just stated them, and left the rest to you:  1) You are now a part of the Servant's Mission, becuase you have been adopted into the people of God and THE Servant of the Lord has paved the way; and 2) Patience now.  Shine where you are.  Love, forgive, and put more feet to the "love your neighbor as yourself" thing.  Do what you are gifted and called to do, whatever that vocation might be.  No matter what your calling, you are part of the Mission, as long as you are mindful of who you are supposed to be before the Lord.

Now, having said that, I present what I didn't say yesterday, by way of illustration.

When I was a student at Liberty University back in 1984, I remember the presidential election of that year.  Ronald Reagan won a landslide victory over Walter Mondale.  I'm not sure if the hapless candidate won his own home state of Minnesota.  Perhaps he did -- but nothing else.  Anyway.  I remember the atmosphere on campus that election night.  Giddy!  There were shouts of joy coming from the two TV rooms on campus.  The president's re-election signaled a time of renewal.  Revival!  No more abortion.  No more crooked government.  No more immorality in America.  Our Messiah had come!

How silly is that?  But, that's the way we were back in 1984 on a conservative, Baptist campus where we had the largest College Republicans chapter in the the country and Young Democrats numbered two people on campus.  I think they may have been in the federal witness protection program -- if, that is, they really did exist.  The dominant mindset on campus was that moral change could really come through political action.  We could get it done with the right amount of political muscle.

I couldn't help but see the same "religious" thing playing out when Barack Obama was elected in 2008.  The scene in that Chicago park on election night was eerily reminiscent to me.  The roles were reversed.  Now the Democrats were laying claim to the same silly expectations for their man as did Liberty students for Reagan back in 1984!

I told you -- the illustration was too dang close to the line!  Of course, I would have prefaced the whole thing with, "Now you Republicans here, don't get mad at me; and you Democrats, don't get too giddy."  And then, before talking about election 2008, I would have reversed the advice.  But I chose wisely to leave that stuff on the cutting room floor.

But, it does illustrate what I wanted to say in application.  Cal Thomas was recently interviewed by Table Talk magazine, and they asked him about religion and politics.  They asked him if he had any regrets about working with Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority in the 80's.  He said this (Priceless):  “…followers of Jesus, whose kingdom is not of this world, should not think that having the “right” person in office will somehow restore righteousness to a fallen and sin-infested world.  How can a fallen leader repair a fallen society?  He (or she) can’t.  Only God can do that through changed lives.  And lives can be changed only by the transforming power of Jesus Christ. Indeed, it has always been so.”

Bingo!  This was my point about the Servant of the Lord finishing the Mission!  That was my point about where we are called to go as part of that Mission today.  Be patient!  Be hopeful.  Be encouraged.  Do what you are called to do.  Don't put the "messiahship" label on any one person or institution.  It belongs to the Lord, and the Lord alone!

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