Monday, March 16, 2009

Toxic rocks!

This is a photo of me delivering yesterday's sermon at The Well! I know, I know, you wish you went to a church like that too, huh? Seriously, this was my sermon illustration and it just so happened to be 'Mission Sunday' as well, and so I was dressed in my traditional Nigerian attire in addition to donning the debonaire mask and gloves. Makes for a great picture don't you think? Enough about the outfit already and tell us what's up with the mask and gloves, you're thinking? Well, like I said, they were my illustrated sermon props as we were talking about rocks of dishonor that are hurled at you through pain, abuse, rejection, and all the stuff that life seems to so readily have available to make our journey that much more 'interesting' (I had to wear the protective gear so that I could handle the toxic rock which I took out of the box). Our key verses were taken from the story of the woman caught in adultery in John chapter 8, and we talked about the fact that the Pharisees and other leaders of the people were lined up as far as the eye could see, waiting for Jesus to authorize the 'Moses-sanctioned-stoning-party.'

We explored the very real possibility that if Jesus had not been present she would have met an untimely death at the hands of men who, like her, were sinners (certainly the one with whom she had committed adultery, even though he was conspicously absent from the receiving end of the stoning party), yet felt it their religious duty to ensure that they hurled their rocks of dishonor at an already publicly shamed woman. Then we took it a step further and examined the idea that some rocks of dishonor that are hurled at us have more far reaching consequences than others, because they leave a toxic residue on us that begins to color and destroy our outlook on life and wreak havoc on our testimony as bitterness begins to take root in our hearts. Here's how the writer of Hebrews expressed the danger of toxic rocks:

Work at getting along with each other.... Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. (Hebrews 12: 14-15 - The Message Bible)

Evidently, when toxic rocks are hurled at us, their residue can give root to thistles that can destroy the garden of our lives in no time at all. What a great plan! If the enemy of our souls can get us to develop whole gardens full of "weeds of bitter discontent," we are much less likely to be a threat to his kingdom objectives since we will be of little consequence to spreading any real, authentic message of love. There are toxic rocks being hurled in every direction and maybe, just maybe you've been hit by one at some point in your life. The real question is: did it's residue stick to you without you even realizing it, so that now you are spreading toxicity like a wildfire and you have no clue as to what, when, or how it happened? Tomorrow we'll take a toxic test and look at some real world examples of toxic rocks. Stay tuned.