Posts Tagged ‘The Babylon Bee’

Sermon 06-18-17: “A Loving Father and His Younger Son”

July 12, 2017

Detail from Rembrandt’s “Return of the Prodigal Son”

For Father’s Day, I began a two-part series on the Parable of the Prodigal Son, otherwise known as the Parable of the Loving Father. This sermon focuses on the more popular part of the parable: the story of the younger son, from Luke 15:11-24. Even six or seven years ago, I thought the younger son’s story was for new converts to the faith—that it didn’t “apply” to those of us who have been Christians for a while. Of course, now I see how foolish that is. In this sermon, I challenge us to think about ways in which we’re a lot like the younger son.

Sermon Text: Luke 15:1-2, 11-24

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A couple of weeks ago, this headline appeared on The Babylon Bee, that satirical Christian news website: “Father of 3 Wonders When He’ll Get Chance to Influence Others for Christ.” This fake news article continues:

Stating that he had been feeling a sense of purposelessness and melancholy for some months now, local father of three Andrew Harbaugh recently began wondering when he would ever get a chance to impact anyone for the sake of Christ, sources close to him confirmed Thursday.

Harbaugh reportedly spends his days working ten hours at a desk job and his nights talking and playing with his three children.

“I just wish God would place a few people in my life for whom I could make an eternal difference,” Harbaugh told reporters, his head in his hands. “I just don’t have time to do anything for the Kingdom of God while I provide for my family and spend time with my three boys.”

“Surely the Lord will have something important for me to do someday,” he added sadly.

You see the irony, I hope. Like Mr. Harbaugh in this article, each one of us who is a father has a God-given opportunity—a God-given responsibility—to do the most important work for God’s kingdom possible, which is this: sharing with our children the love, grace, and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ through our words and through our actions. We are to live out what it means to be a Christian.

Now, I’m not saying that these words don’t apply to equally to mothers, but since it’s Father’s Day, I’m aiming them at us fathers. Or grandfathers—because this still applies to you: The most important mission that God has given us in life right now is to do everything we can to “go and make disciples” of our children and our grandchildren. And we don’t get to outsource this holy work of discipleship to our wives alone. Being a disciple of Jesus, being involved in church, praying and reading the Bible with our children, is not women’s work! Please, fathers, for the sake of our children’s souls, let’s not shirk our responsibility! If we are to be “imitators of God,” as the apostle Paul says[1]—and we can learn a lot about God our Father from this today’s scripture—then we ought to imitate God in his passion for bringing his children—our children—into a saving relationship with him through Christ! Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 03-12-17: “Calling All Tax Collectors and Sinners”

March 21, 2017

If you’re a Christian, witnessing should be one of your top priorities in life. If you’re like most Christians, however, it isn’t. As much as I want to say, “Try harder,” that message won’t work. As I say in this sermon, what we need to become more deliberate, more effective witnesses is to fall in love with Jesus—again or for the first time.

Sermon Text: Matthew 9:9-17

Do any of you have an ichthus or fish decal on or near the bumper of your car? I have often said that I wouldn’t have one of those because I’m not a considerate enough driver—or a careful enough driver—to have a symbol of my loyalty to Jesus on the back of my car: I don’t want to cut someone off in traffic and thereby give Jesus a bad name! I don’t want to be a bad witness.

A satirical article in the Babylon Bee purports to have just the answer for Christian drivers like me: a “retractable fish decal.” The article describes a modification kit for your car that allows you, with the press of a button, to hide the fish symbol when you do something wrong while driving. In the article, a spokesperson from LifeWay Christian Resources puts it like this:

“Want to cut someone off, but worried you’ll be a bad witness? Now you can slap the red button on your dashboard and a small panel will rotate on your bumper, hiding the fish from view… Flip people off on the freeway, [drive] down the shoulder [of the interstate] during a traffic jam, all without worrying about marring the good name of Christ.”

The article continues:

The kit ships with several options, such as the ability to instantly replace the Christian fish decal with an atheist “flying spaghetti monster” silhouette or a Coexist sticker, or else the bumper sticker from a competing church in your town or city.

[The spokesperson added:] “Not only will your terrible, aggressive driving not be a bad witness for Christ, but you can also make atheists or any other church or religion you want look bad instead!”

If only that were real! Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 10-30-16: “Generosity, Part 3: Generosity and Relationships”

November 4, 2016

generosity-sermon-series-graphic

How do we know that we’re saved? The test, according to Jesus, isn’t whether or not we prayed a “sinner’s prayer” when we were young, or made a profession of faith, or went through confirmation class. The test is this: Are we becoming more forgiving people? Are our lives increasingly characterized by grace and mercy toward others? Are we willing to forgive others when they sin against us?

This may be a sobering thought for many of us. If we struggle to forgive, what’s wrong with us, and how can we change? This sermon explores these questions.

Sermon Text: Luke 17:3-10

[To listen on the go, right-click here to download an MP3.]

Last week, I saw a depressingly funny headline in the Babylon Bee, a satirical Christian news website—which is like the Onion except it deals with church- and Christian-related themes. The headline read: “Unrepentant Hedonist Really Banking On Sinner’s Prayer He Recited At Age 7.”

bee

The article begins:

As he continues to live out a vigorous and shameless pursuit of anything and everything that gives him any degree of temporary pleasure, sources confirmed Friday that local unrepentant hedonist Justin Bergman, 29, is really banking on the sinner’s prayer he recited as a small child.

After a sleepless three-day binge of drugs, alcohol, and sex, Bergman was approached by a friend who expressed concern over the man’s eternal soul, to which he is said to have replied, “Don’t worry about me, man—I asked Jesus into my heart a long time ago. Me and God are good.”

You and I both know that there are plenty of Justin Bergmans out there—people who live their lives as they please, with hardly a thought about Jesus Christ and what he demands of his disciples; whose Christian faith, such as it is, has hardly made a dent in their behavior. Yet when it comes to their salvation, these same people are banking on a prayer they prayed when they were young; or maybe they’re banking on their baptism; or their confirmation; or their name on a church roll somewhere. They’re counting on these mere tokens of faith to save them, rather than their faith in the atoning work if Jesus Christ on the cross.

Matthew chapter 18 parallels Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness in verses 3 and 4 of today’s scripture. But it includes a parable about a servant who owed the king millions of dollars—an amount he couldn’t begin to pay back. The king was going to have him and his family sold into slavery, but the man pleads for mercy, and the king has mercy and forgives his debt. So what does this newly forgiven man do next? He finds a fellow servant who owes him a small amount of money, and demands that he pay him every last red cent. The debtor pleads for mercy, but the recently forgiven servant starts choking him, saying, “Pay me what you owe.” When the king finds out, he’s furious: the king tells the man: “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt.”[1]

And here’s the frightening moral of the story: Jesus says: “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”

My point is, Jesus makes an uncomfortable connection between God forgiving us our sins and our willingness to forgive other people theirs. Read the rest of this entry »