CHURCH PLANTING LESSON #24: You’ll always want to Re-preach your last sermon(s).
I always want a another chance. Nearly without fail, I want to re-preach every sermon that I preach, right after I preach it. At times, this desire overwhelms me seconds after I’m done. Other times, it results days, or even weeks later, usually after I’ve read a Scripture, a book, or come across some other idea that would have been “perfect” or at least “better.” Alas, there are always the things I wish I would have said, things I wish I hadn’t of said, things I forget to say, and things that I simply butchered when I said them.
The truth is, there will always be different ways to preach the same text. God’s Word is a living mountain that is never fully mined of all of its nuggets. I trust that the Holy Spirits is powerful enough to ensure that what He wants to be said is preached however broken the pastor or the sermon might seem.
I recently had this experience with a sermon I preached on crossing the Jordan. I would post it here but our computer’s crashed so it sounds like C3PO speaking from a pulpit in the middle of the cantina in Mos Eisley (Shout out to my fellow Star Wars Freaks!). The sermon text came from Joshua 3, where Israel is led across the Jordan. Now I usually try to intentionally forget about my last sermon and move on so as not to dwell. In fact, I’ve never listened to my own sermons after I preach them…ever. Unfortunately, as is usually the case, I was reading a book and happened upon a passage that made me want to re-preach that sermon.
I am reading a classic titled, Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The first chapter about “costly grace vs. cheap grace” is amazing. Every Christian should read it. The second chapter begins with a verse from the Gospel of Mark:
14And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.
The stated intent of Bonhoeffer’s book is to “recover a true understanding of mutual relation between grace and discipleship.” In other words, he wants to prove how being saved by grace means more than a free pass to live how you want; but actually leaving everything to follow Him and live for Him absolutely. It reminded me of how I needed to better point Joshua 3(and all sermons) and following God across the river, more toward the cross and following Jesus who said, more than once, “Follow me.”
So, in the hopes of redeeming my Joshua 3, C3PO sounding sermon here, I’ll quote Bonhoeffer because how he explains how genuine faith in Jesus does more justice to the idea of crossing the Jordan into a new, different, scary, and amazing life:
“The disciple simply burns his boats and goes ahead. He is called out, and has to forsake his old life in order that he may “exist” in the strictest sense of the word. The old life is left behind and completely surrendered. The disciple is dragged out of his relative security into a life of absolute insecurity (that is, in truth, into the absolute security and safety of the fellowship of Jesus), from a life which is observable and calcuable (it is, in fact, quite incalcuable) into a life where everything is unobservable and fortuitous (that is, into one which is necessary and calcuable), out of the realm of finite (which is in truth the infinite) into the realm of infinite possibilities (which is the one liberating reality)…it is nothing else than bondage to Jesus Christ alone…”
Deitrich Bonhoeffer, Cost of Discipleship, pg. 58