Thursday, March 31, 2016
During the time allotted for sermon prep, pastors frequently feel a growing dissonance about a tension created by the biblical text from which they are working.
To illustrate, if I were planning to speak on abortion, I might begin to feel a growing tension as I prepare. I would sense the need to express grace to those who have had an abortion and assure them of God’s forgiveness. Does that assurance then minimize the impact of the strong warnings? Does the equivocation weaken the strong prohibition against abortion?
Another example: When I’m speaking on what God’s Word says about homosexuality, can I declare the Bible’s unequivocal truth of ‘one man with one woman for life’? Or must I also digress into the neglected area of compassion for those tempted by this sin? Must I circle back to the importance of loving relationships in reaching those battling this sin with the gospel?
Similarly, this Easter we were reviewing the Wordless Book concept, popularized more than 100 years ago by Charles Spurgeon, where various groups of colors have been used to capture the message of the gospel. On Good Friday, we studied ‘green’ for Garden of Eden perfection—life as God intended it. ‘Black’ for the human condition of sin, separation, and darkness. ‘Red’ for the salvation of Christ—the cross. We reserved ‘white,’ the color of resurrection, for Easter Sunday.
As I prepared, I felt an increasing dissonance about using these terms, which are frequently the source of headlines in our society when applied to race. Too often, these same colors are used to inflame hatred between people, and that deeply grieves the heart of God.
I wrestled and wrestled and wrestled with the tension in the truth . . . in the end, I began with this. I hope you relate to “the tension in the truth” and are trying and trying again, as I am, to use great wisdom in matters so very sensitive in our culture.