The Christian As a “Sermon”
The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once raised the question as to what would happen if there were no preachers. He concluded that the only thing remaining would be the lives of Christians. And so he wondered: “What kind of sermon would you be preaching?”
A poet once expressed it somewhat like this:
You are preaching a gospel day by day;
by the things you do and the words you say.
These may be many, or maybe just few;
but say, what is the gospel according to you?
What does the world see as they observe the children of God? I would like to suggest the following.
In a world that seems to be coming apart at the seams, the Christian needs to radiate calmness. Someone has written:
Said the Robin to the Sparrow:
“I would really like to know,
why these anxious human beings
rush around and worry so.”
Said the Sparrow to the Robin:
“I think that it must be,
that they have no heavenly Father
such as cares for you and me.”
Do we live in fear? Are we constantly fretting over material things? We should “relax” in the Lord and enjoy our Christian lives. People can tell whether we are contented or not. We ought not to portray a frustrated image.
In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul admonished: “Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice. Let your forbearance be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand [near by]” (Philippians 4:4-5). The term “forbearance” (ASV), or “moderation” (KJV) is probably obscure to many. The rendition “reasonableness” (ESV) is some better. I like the expanded “sweet reasonableness” which expresses the meaning of the original.
The idea is that of courtesy or graciousness. Unfortunately some people are known as professional grumps. They are ever poised to “tell off” someone—the waitress, the bank clerk, the grocery checker.
I was visiting in the South a few years ago (where people generally are known for excellent manners). A gentleman invited my wife and I out for an evening meal. He was so belligerent and rude to the waitress that I was greatly embarrassed. I seriously questioned his spirituality.
It was said of Christ, on a number of occasions as he saw the crowds in distress, that he had “compassion” on them. The Greek word for compassion is related to a term that has reference to one’s inner organs. Metaphorically it denotes a deep inner feeling for someone. When we see folks suffering, we should feel for them and strive to help them as we are capable. When we see the bereaved, do we “feel” their pain—as much as one can for another?
It seems the world is growing increasingly cold. The problem is not global warming; it’s global cooling. It’s a dog-eat-dog environment (significantly undergirded by the evolutionary philosophy). We cannot help everyone of course; nor can we solve all the world’s problems. The Christian does need to show compassion in his daily demeanor.
John F. Kennedy wrote a book titled Profiles in Courage, in which he applauded this quality. Courage is a virtue. David once said to the Lord: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you” (Psalm 56:3). The noblest courage of all is that derived from faith in God.
Courageousness is not pugnaciousness. It is not the disposition that is loud-mouthed, or that runs over others. Courage is quiet confidence while doing what is right. Courage is a quality people admire; it is not that of which they are fearful, or that by which they are intimidated.
Yes, people are seeing your sermons every day. Make sure they are clear and meaningful for good. When folks observe your life as a truly Christian sermon, they may just want to hear about what it is you have—that they might need!