A friend recently sent me some notes he took during a sermon at his church. Here’s what he sent me:
- It’s easy to pick someone [as a spouse] to have fun with, but it’s more important to chose someone you want to go thru hardship with.
- My responsibility in marriage is to guard our oneness.
- The biggest enemy of marriage is selfishness.
- We get into trouble when WE decide what parts of scripture are relevant.
- Learning to pursue God indicates the ability to pursue our spouses.
The trouble, in short, is that none of these takeaways require a crucified and risen Savior.
Let me put it another way: can an atheist create a list like this (with, of course, the exception of the final point)? Can the final point be made by a Jewish person just as easily as a Christian person? I still maintain that if the sermon’s punchline is not repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Christ, it is not a distinctly Christian sermon.
I’m certain that to some, my rants on the topic are rude, offensive, and divisive. The problem is that those who do not follow the Scriptures’ mandate for preaching (Luke 24:47) are actually the divisive ones. If a pastor’s focus in his preaching is helping others to the exclusion or omission of preaching the cross, then he is failing in his preaching office and himself needs to be called to repentance since a violation of God’s Word necessitates repentance.
But instead, people tend to rally around people they trust and guard against anyone who isn’t on board with whatever is being said. I don’t know the pastor who gave these applications, but I would have one question regarding the last take-away: does this pastor really pursue God? Is it a wholehearted seeking like what the Bible demands of a person who would say they know the Lord? God doesn’t grade on a curve, guys.
If my ability to relate to a future spouse* is one tied up in my ability to pursue God, then I’m screwed before I even begin. Instead, Christ’s ability to work in and through me in a marriage situation is actually the true method of how pursuit of my future spouse will endure. As Christ has loved me as the Church, His Bride, I am to love my wife. And this is brought about in me through my being renewed and regenerated…not in my pulling myself up and “just doing it” with renewed resolve.
As well meaning as the person who produced a list like this is, it’s good advice–but it’s not the Good News he’s been given to proclaim. How often we assume that because someone holds a mic and has an open Bible, a closed Bible or sermon notes in their head or hand, that they are doing their God-given job of preaching the Bible and shepherding God’s local flock.
*Note: I realized shortly after typing “future spouse” that I have not yet discussed my views on marriage specifically regarding myself. I will devote an article to this topic sometime in the coming days.