Tonight’s homily for preschool graduation

Danny Cahill in 2009, after winning The Biggest Loser.
Danny Cahill in 2009, after winning The Biggest Loser.

I offered the following homily to parents and family at Hampton UMC’s preschool graduation. 

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

Did you hear the news about The Biggest Loser—that NBC reality show in which contestants compete to see who can lose the most weight? According to a recent study, most of the 16 contestants who were on the show in 2009 ended up gaining most of it back. Many of them even weigh more today than they did when they started losing weight.

Even the winner of The Biggest Loser that season, Danny Cahill, has struggled to keep the weight off. At the beginning of the season he clocked in at 430 lbs. He’s 5’11”. By the end of the season, he was down to 191. He said at the time: “I’ve got my life back. I mean, I feel like a million bucks.”

Which means that he probably only feels like half a million bucks today—since he’s gained almost half the weight back!

Now, if, like me, you’ve struggled to lose weight, you probably hear this news and feel a tiny sense of relief. Don’t you? As if to say, “Thank heavens! I’m not the only one who’s lost and gained and lost and gained and lost and gained.”

And of course, the point of this scientific study was to describe the ways in which our bodies actually work against us when it comes to losing weight: Our metabolism slows down to a crawl until we start climbing back toward what our body mistakenly considers our “normal” weight.

It makes us just want to throw in the towel, right? It makes it seem like losing weight is pretty hopeless, right? It makes it seem like we’re powerless over this problem of weight gain.

I’m there’s a silver lining somewhere in the report… I’m not giving myself permission to wait for the “Hot Doughnuts Now” sign to flash and go and eat a dozen Krispy Kremes—although I certainly could!

No… my point is this: If you substitute the word “sin” for “weight gain,” then you probably would have a pretty good understanding of how the Bible describes our main problem as human beings. When it comes to sin, when it comes to failing to do what we ought to do; indeed, when it comes to disobeying God’s law, we are even more helpless, even more powerless, even more hopeless—at least apart from Christ—to do anything about it than we are to lose a lot of weight and keep it off.

And this is really bad news! Even the greatest heroes in the Bible, when they come into God’s presence, are scared out of their minds. They say things like, “Woe is me! I’m doomed! I’m a man of unclean lips and come from a people of unclean lips!” Why? Because they know that they’re sinners; they know they’re unworthy; they know that because of their sin they can’t be in the presence of a holy God.

So, if someone is going to solve our problem with sin, it’s not going to be us. It’s going to have to be God. The good news is that in Jesus Christ—through his life, death, and resurrection—God has done exactly that!

The Bible says, “God made him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”[1] It says that God canceled the “record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands” and “set it aside, nailing it to the cross.”[2] It’s as if every sin that separates us from God—past, present, or future—has been nailed to the cross with Christ. He lived the life we were unable to live; he’d died the death we deserved to die; he even suffered the hell we deserved to suffer. Because God loved us that much…

And this is what makes Christianity so different from every other religion in the world! Every other religion in the world says, in a nutshell, “Do these things, follow these commands, obey these laws, and then… if you don’t mess up too badly, then… God will accept you.”

Christianity says, “Because God accepts you, do these things… And not only that, I’m going to give you power through my Holy Spirit to do them.”

I hope you can see how that makes all the difference!

[1] 2 Corinthians 5:21

[2] Colossians 2:14

3 thoughts on “Tonight’s homily for preschool graduation”

  1. Love your comment about the greatest heroes in the Bible. Being in the presence of the living God, or even one of his angels sends them trembling to their knees.

    I am always amused by the non-believer who says, “If there is a God, I am going to give him a piece of my mind for allowing so much misery in the world!” Or, some such thing. No they won’t!
    They will be terrified and begging for mercy.

    1. For every indignant non-believer who says something that, I would ask: “Are you glad that you exist?” And of course the answer would be “yes.”

  2. Oh yea, but they just don’t see any eternal meaning to their existence. Very sad for them to think this is all there is, but that’s their choice.

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