3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. 1John 2.3-6
Pastors wrongly believe that it is possible to preach a perfect sermon. This false belief leads many pastors (at least this one) to replay the sermon in their minds Sunday afternoons, imagining how they might preach it “better” given another chance. This is stupid, at least if you believe in the Holy Spirit. The truth is, the Spirit God says what he wants when he wants to whom he wants through whom he wants. If the pastor has prepared himself through study and prayer, he should take confidence that God will work through whatever broken words fall from his lips. We must be careful, any re-imagining of a given sermon can lead us to pride or despair–thinking too much of ourselves in the act of preaching all together. The truth is, whatever the preacher might have deemed “perfect” (if it differs from what was in fact spoken) may in conflict with what the Holy Spirit wanted shared.
With that said, I want to consider how I might have preached today’s sermon on 1John 2.3-11 differently. By different, I don’t mean better, just different. This sermon was titled, Our Obedience–and that is what it was about. In summary, John says: Those who know God, obey Him and those who obey God, know Him. In essence, he is describing what happens to someone who is transformed by God’s love from the inside out. Obedience is the natural response to God’s love. John intends to challenge those whose faith has never moved beyond words. I wanted to bring the same challenge to our church today– to force those who confess Jesus as Savior, THOSE WHO SAY THEY LOVE GOD, to consider whether they live as if Jesus is Lord, THERE ONE TRUE LOVE. My fear is that we will hear John’s words, and my sermon, as a challenge to obey in order to prove you love God, instead of seeing obedience as God’s intended means for us to honor, worship, experience, and love Him beyond words.
My desire is the same as John’s, stated in the last verse of his first letter, “…keep yourselves from idols.” Simply stated, love the Creator, not the creation. My prayer is that God’s love will awaken a passion in us to love Him. And I hope some day that this call to obedience, which is really what it is, will be clearly understood because my own love for God and His Word is as lucid as the late David Wilkerson: