Sermon Illustrations


For nine years I had worked with the same group of men on a loading dock, loading and unloading trucks. It was hard physical work, but very mundane and we all found it quite boring. Since the work was so mindless, I would find myself in philosophical conversations everyday. I was the only Christian, and so I found myself on the opposite end of matters of faith, and worldview than everyone else I worked with. Quite often, they saw my views as nonsensical and preposterous.

I found it very frustrating that after nine years not a single one of these men were the slight bit interested in Jesus Christ. Well, I have to admit, these men knew me well. After nine years, they knew my flaws, they knew my hot buttons, they knew my sins, they knew I was a far cry from what a Christian should be. I knew God had placed me in this job to be his representative to these men in particular; I was discouraged by my own personal failure. I came to believe that it was because of me, because I could not live a perfect life in front of these men, that they had no interest in Jesus Christ.

One afternoon, out of the blue, Phil took me aside and wanted to talk. Phil was a very large man who played football as a linebacker for the college I had attended. Phil was a happy go lucky guy, who never had a care in the world, but that day he was uncharacteristically, serious and a bit jumpy.

We sat down and Phil and blurted out, "Tell me all about Jesus."

I thought he was kidding, I was thinking that I had told these guys about Jesus for nine years and at very turn they rejected whatever I had to say, I seriously thought Phil was just messing with me, like he did quite often with everyone on the loading dock.

It turns out Phil had a cousin who was getting into serious trouble in Oakland California. I think he was in the county jail or something. Phil thought his cousin needed Jesus. Phil wanted to know all about Jesus so he could tell his cousin and his cousin then could straighten his life out. So....I told Phil, AGAIN, all I could about Jesus.

Phil insisted that I give him a bible, Phil said that he felt that he could only tell his cousin about Jesus if he was holding a bible in his hand. So I gave him an old bible of mine, knowing I would never see it again.

Then, as odd as it sounds, Phil who was not a Christian shared Jesus with his cousin who was in serious trouble. Phil's cousin immediately gave his life over to Jesus and became a Christian. His conversion was so powerful that several other family members also gave their lives over to Jesus Christ. These family members saw the change in this cousin, and the cousin said talk to Phil, he knows all about Jesus. When these family members found out that Phil, who had led them all to Christ wasn't a Christian they were dumbfounded, and so they worked on Phil - who gave his life over to Jesus a few weeks later.

About a year later I quit my job and I left for Seminary, and now Phil, as imperfect as he was, was now telling these men how Jesus had changed his life and that they needed this change to.

On my last day of work, as I said goodbye to those men whom I worked with for ten years, I realized how little faith I had for the last ten years. I had imagined that who I was in Jesus Christ would change the lives of the men I worked with. When all this time it was Jesus who was going to change their lives.

How faithless of me to be discouraged. I should have known the power of God's Word.

(From a sermon by Peter Loughman, Discouragement: Talk To The Hand, 1/16/2010)

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