Summary: We must be broken before God can reach our hearts

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TCF Sermon

September 14, 2003

Fruit vs. Stone = Soft vs. Hard

(Demonstration: use a piece of fruit and a small rock. Use some sort of tool to try to penetrate each.)

To get to the middle of this fruit, the “heart” of it, if you will, to penetrate this fruit, it doesn’t take much effort. However, to get to the middle of this rock, to penetrate it, it takes quite a bit of effort. In fact, it takes some destruction, some breaking, doesn’t it?

This past week, we remembered one of the most terrible and important days in America’s history. All over the news were those memories again. Jets crashing into buildings. Buildings crumbling, and thousands dead.

It has been two years since September 11 set our world, in some ways, on a new course. That day led to war in Afghanistan, and later to war in Iraq. That day has contributed to a new sense of insecurity when we travel. That day has done a lot of things, but I’d like for a moment to consider what that day could have done, and didn’t.

What such a day could have done is break us as a nation. It could have brought us to our collective knees. And I mean that in a good sense – not in the sense that we’re broken and defeated militarily.

But it could have broken us, in a good, biblical sense, which we’ll focus on this morning.

And for a short time, it seemed that’s what might really happen. I can still remember the scene on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington, shortly after September 11. There, congressmen and senators, Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals alike, stood on those historic steps and sang together, God Bless America. It was a moving moment.

It was a moment that gave me, and many Christians, real hope for America. It gave me hope that perhaps the good that would come from this terrible event, might just be an awakening to God, to His purposes, to His plans, to His will.

It might have been a turning point for our culture. But in hindsight, it’s obvious today, just two years later, that it wasn’t that. We could have been broken, but we were just bent. Yes, this event threw us back on our heels as a nation for a short period of time. Yes, briefly, it humbled us. Certainly it changed a lot of things. But very quickly, within a matter of weeks, our society was headed right back down the same wide road to spiritual destruction we were on before this terrible event. A very brief window of opportunity, a very short window of a sort of national softness of heart, a very brief time of vulnerability, quickly gave way to renewed hardness of heart to the things of God, and then, back to business as usual. This was an event that could have, that should have, broken us as a people.

But it didn’t. Without speculating about God’s purpose and plan in all this, without speculating about whether or not this was a judgment of God on America...we can see quite clearly in scripture, that God can and often does use hard things to break us, and He allows this, because He wants us broken before Him, so that when we are weak, He can be strong for us. So that our strength is completely in Him, and not in ourselves. We’re going to look this morning about why that’s true, why it’s important to live lives of constant brokenness before Him.

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