Man, about half of our church family is out sick with this respiratory thing! Whatever virus this is, I’d really like it to stop chewing on our FCCers -- well, and on everyone else in Central Illinois...
But other than that, it was a very nice week. The weather is only now just starting to feel like Summer (instead of the wet Spring that it’s been through so much of June), the course that I’m teaching on World Religions at a local college has yielded a lot of excellent discussion -- both in and outside of official class times -- and I was even able to have some very positive and thought-provoking interactions with people at my most recent book signing last weekend. It’s like everywhere I’ve turned in the past week, God has opened the door for talking about Him and about why a relationship with Christ is so fundamentally different than every other religion that people have created over the centuries (whether that religion be Hinduism, Islam, or even a modern “spirituality” that seeks to avoid God in the process). I’d like to encourage all of us to pray that God open those sorts of doors in our own lives... and then pray not only for the eyes to see them when they pop up, but also the wisdom and integrity to be willing to step through them and just share what you know. I guarantee that you’ll be amazed at how receptive and responsive people usually are when you simply, organically share with them your personal experience with Jesus Christ.
In our message this week, we began a new Summer series, entitled “The Greatest Sermon Ever Written.” No, I’m not talking about MY sermon being the greatest sermon ever written -- I’m talking about the Book of Hebrews. Oh, you could argue that Peter’s sermon at Pentecost (or, better still, Christ’s sermon on the Mount) should be seen as the greatest sermon ever vocally expressed, but I’d say that Hebrews is the best sermon ever written down first and prepared on paper.
See, it’s not a letter -- it’s a pastor giving a sermon that makes use of tons and tons of Scripture and layers and layers of arguments to make a very basic, very profound point: Jesus is better.
He’s better than all of the great prophets who have come before. He’s better than any other gods we might fashion for ourselves. He’s better than the angels He created. He’s better than any of us probably give Him credit for, even when we’re trying to. He’s just... better...
For example, our preacher begins by making an argument for how amazingly powerful the angels are -- God’s messengers to this world. And yet, for all of their amazingness, they aren’t anything but messengers -- spiritual constructs built by God to serve His true children, His family, people like you and me. As terrifyingly powerful as angels are, God never called them His family, He never gave them a throne to rule from, He never gave them the capability for repentance, He never even said that He loved them -- because they’re constructs, not persons.
The point of all of that isn’t to feel bad about angels, but to realize that as amazing as they are, they pale in God’s sight compared to how much He loves and truly cares about every details of His children... and to remember how our Big Brother, Jesus, stands head and shoulders above all of Creation because He isn’t just another creature like the angels or like us -- He’s the Creator who sculpted every creature like the angels or like us.
Who could you tell that to today...?