Wesley wanted to bring many souls to the foot of the Cross, that is well known. He was also fastidious in his own devotions, spending time with the word of God, he journalled extensively (For today read “BLOG”), he preached tirelessly. His aim was to be Christ like and he was mocked for it. There were bits of his life that fell short of the mark, perhaps his personal life was not the greatest. He embodied:
‘And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;’ Col 3:23
And in his professional life, he did this. He was not working because as some say he was a workaholic. He worked because he was compelled by something, not of him, something from God. God called him and he followed, he chose to not only do life with Jesus but to go wherever he was sent, and bring many souls to the Lord.
But this sermon is more about the follow-up, a skillset often neglected by todays’ evangelists. This was a message for people about backsliding, about sinning and what to do about it when you are a follower of Jesus.
There are two broad subjects within Christian books right now, not the academic ones but the everyday books people read. The first is ‘becoming Christian’ and second is ‘how to grow in faith.’
There are few books that address the issue of falling short, or backsliding, or wondering about it, or being convicted by the Spirit of sin. Why is this? We preach often about how we are not perfect, how we are unworthy, how we are all sinners.
Is it possible that as we say “We are all sinners,” we don’t actually mean it, we don’t believe it, we think we are past that, that by standing in the pulpit we are exempt. What of the listeners, those who have sat in the pews for many years, is this just rhetoric with no substance. Is it a phrase we expect to hear and then tick it off the list along with ‘mercy’ ‘grace’ and ‘love.’
When we say “we are all sinners” what we should mean and possibly should be saying is “I am a sinner unworthy, you are a sinner unworthy,” This is not about communal guilt and shame, it is about reality. We sin, intentional, unintentional, due to circumstances, due to whatever. But we sin. And it is not about thinking of Adam & Eve and holding onto that sin that is within us. We really do things that are sins. We look where we shouldn’t, our minds have thoughts that should be banished, our actions are not always for the good.
This sermon addresses this head on, it does not shy away from the sins committed, but it is also a sermon infused with God’s love. Yes we are sinners, and, yes we are loved with a filial love. When we open up the communication, when we speak to the Lord and confess & repent of our sinful ways we are forgiven and this is not a one time deal. Yes there is the onus to live a changed life, and if we are born in the Spirit we have a changed life and the fruit of the Spirit should be evidenced in our lives but is this something we work at? or is this giftings of these fruit. I can remember being an angry, frustrated, violent person, now not even a guy from Vodafone accounts can make me frustrated. I sat yesterday as someone verbally abused me in public and I was patient. These thins are not of me, they are gifts. Beautiful, priceless gifts.
To backsliders everywhere, get back on track, there is life here, there is love and it is abundant.