Sermon Illustrations

I Don’t Want a ‘Shicken Sandich’! (06.13.05--The Tie That Binds--1 John 3:13-18)

“Well, what do you want?” The young frustrated mother blurted out to her little boy as he pouted in the fast food line. “We’ve been standing here for five minutes and I’ve told you everything on the menu. What is it that you DO want?” He winced and for the first time he felt embarrassed standing in front of all the people waiting in line behind him. “Mommy? I know that I don’t want a ‘cheesyburg and fwies’. I know I don’t want a ‘shicken sandich’. And, I know I don’t want something with ‘fishes’ in it. I can tell you what I don’t want. I know I want something, Mommy. I just can’t tell you what!”

I watched with curiosity from a table across the room. The little guy just couldn’t find what he wanted. He was hungry and anxious by the way he pranced back and forth around his mom. He wasn’t there because she had somehow cajoled him into being there. He was hungry and he wanted something to eat. His little tummy was sending out the right signals but his brain wasn’t connecting the signals with anything that his mom was telling him.

“Fish? Hamburger? Chicken?” His little brain told him that was food and it was good to eat. But, his brain also told him that it wanted something specific and particular. It was something that he couldn’t put into words, a feeling that had to be fulfilled but couldn’t be quantified. Finally, after a few more tense moments at the front of the line, the frazzled mother told the clerk to “Just give him a hamburger with everything on it.” She paid the clerk and dragged her little guy along behind, cup in hand, over to the drinks dispenser. The little boy took one last, long look at the menus above the counter and shrugged. That special feeling was still there but he just couldn’t put his finger on it.

It’s a feeling, but we just can’t seem to put it into words. It’s a kind of longing for something, whether that be food, entertainment or just the right thing to read before going to bed. Our brain tells us to get something but it doesn’t fill in all the blanks. When it comes to the love of our God, it’s kind of like that as well. We know what we don’t want. Our hearts tell us that we don’t want the run-of-the mill “love-stuff” the world has to offer. There are a lot of “love” things on the menu down here but none of them is really totally satisfying. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, our hearts cry out to be filled with that special “something” that we just can’t quite put our finger on but know we want really bad. It’s a love, as Martin Luther put it, “caught up high above all things in the invisible God who surpasses all feelings and understandings.” (Commentary on Romans.) It’s a hard thing to put into words but one thing we do know it’s a longing that can’t be filled by any old “shicken sandich.”

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