By Ciara Barrier
How do you respond to a sermon? What do you do when you hear a sermon that comes to you like an arrow flying from the speaker’s mouth and pierces you straight through the heart? You know the type of sermon I’m talking about? Like, for example, when the sermon is about love and the speaker quotes Mark 12:31 – “the second most important command is love: You are to love your neighbour the same as you love yourself…” Ouch! You realise that you don’t love your neighbour, instead, you show disdain, anger and pettiness towards your neighbour every Monday night when it’s time to put the bins out for Tuesday morning rubbish collection, and you-know-that-you-know after the rubbish is collected, your neighbour will end up taking your bin instead of their own, AGAIN! You know: your bin that you hose out consistently, the bin that you went to Bunnings to buy number stickers for so there is no confusion as to the address of the bin? That one. Your bin. It grates on you a little bit. Every Tuesday you have to go to your neighbour’s house (when they aren’t home so that you can avoid confrontation) to swap back bins. You grumble to yourself “how hard is it to take note of where you put your bin on the verge and make sure you are wheeling your OWN bin back to your house and NOT your neighbours bin??”.
Anyway, you realise, in that moment during the sermon, the sermon about “loving your neighbour as you love yourself”, that it’s a bin. It is only a bin. One is reminded that people matter, things don’t. In the moment, you reconcile that it is healthy and holy to let this disdain, anger and pettiness go. Swapping out a lack of love for love of your neighbour. The Holy Spirit has helped you to mature in this matter.
However, not all respond to the sermon. And I ask, how does God feel about this?
Personally, I view sermons as instructions from God on how we are to live and to be frank, recently I have felt a fiery dart pierce through my heart wayyyy too often for my squirming flesh to enjoy. It is humbling to be convicted of sin and to have my faulty thinking highlighted. My pride wants to ignore the message, ignore the sermon, to justify my behaviour and bury my head in the sand. However, I am mature enough to know that that’s not good for me. Ignoring the message can lead to further sin, shame, regret and brokenness. I am to take inventory of my heart, my attitude: this is good for me. Then I’m left to respond to the message, to respond to God.
Sometimes responding looks like answering the altar call once the sermon is finished and having my pastor pray for me. Sometimes, responding looks like repenting right there in the moment, and sometimes responding is a handwritten note to myself to seek God for further advice and instruction from Him with regards to the message and its impact on me.
The message to you today, is one of encouragement. I encourage you to respond to the sermon and accept responsibility for your part. Your part is being a hearer and doer of the word of God. Respond to God. Responding will add to your life; it truly will. It has to. God says so. For example, in Matthew 6:33 it says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”. Responding to the sermon is wise and mature. One of my favourite pastors once said, “If we don’t mature, we don’t carry the fullness of what God has for us…. Are we going to mature and get ready for what God has for us?”.
How will you respond?