Summary: Part 3 of a series based on Mel Gibson’s film "The Passion of the Christ." Portions of this sermon were derived from sermons given by Sermon Central designed with the same intent.
Experience Ultimate Wholeness
Over the past six years in pastoral ministry I’ve had the opportunity of officiating at more than sixty funeral services ranging from elderly people to infants, from victims of accidents to those whose deaths were a welcomed relief at the end of a long road of suffering. As I’ve prepared for these services I’ve sat with families who painfully grieved the loss of a their loved one who had lived a prosperous life and I’ve been with families who were glad that their family member was gone because of how terrible of a person he or she was.
I’ll never forget one of the first funerals I ever officiated in when a family member shared with me about the horrific abuse that this man had put her family through and asked me to hurry up and burry the man so that they could get on with their lives.
I’ve sat at the death bed of those who looked back with few regrets at a life well lived and I’ve mourned with those who looked back with deep regret at the many mistakes they had made. Some of the most difficult people to console on their death beds are those who are consumed by regret and disappointment. Their stories are filled with one “if only” after another.
If only I hadn’t married so young.
If only I’d taken another job.
If only we had waited to have children.
If only I hadn’t divorced.
If only I had kicked my habit.
If only I had called and said I’m sorry sooner.
If only I swallowed my pride.
If only… If only… If only.
The reality is that no life begins with “if only” statements. Life begins with anticipation, vision, and with dreams.
Do you remember what it was like to be a child? How would you have answered the question at the age of four, “What are you going to do with your life when you get older?” I was going to be the President of the United States. Maybe you were going to be a firefighter, a police officer, an astronaut, a doctor, a professional athlete. I’ve never heard a child say, “When I grow up I want to be an incomplete, unfulfilled, discontented nobody who has never managed to reach my potential.” No way! Boldly and openly, we announced our dreams to anyone who would listen.
But somewhere between four and seventy-four most of us face some detours. We make choices that wreck our worlds and leave our idyllic dreams shattered and our futuristic vision destroyed.
And one day we wake up and realize that it’s too late. Somehow in the routine of daily living we’ve lost the opportunity to be who we wanted to be or do what we wanted to do. And for the most part those detours are of our own making. They’re detours caused by sin.
Sin. If you were with us last week, you’ll remember my insistence on what a deadly serious matter sin is. It’s all around us. Somehow we have become so desensitized to it that the church is now arguing over homosexuality and abortion, things that were once considered sin by all and not only is the church justifying these actions but it is elevating to positions of leadership those who are in support of them. It’s time that we wake up and understand what a holy God we serve. Sin is not something to be taken lightly! We serve a God who has no sin and as God’s children we’re asked to renounce our sinful ways and live the lives that Jesus lived while he was here on this earth.
What I’m going to ask you to do today is something that most Christians have never before done. You see, most people, including the millions who have now seen Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” understand that they’re sinners. Most people, including many who would never claim to be Christians, would agree that Christ died for their sins.
But the problem is that while we all know the truth, very few people allow the truth to actually make a difference in their lives.
We’ve literally have millions of people who claim to be Christians whose lives are no different because of their faith.
You see Christianity, isn’t about obtaining forgiveness from our sins so that we can go out and continue to live our lives the way we want to live them. Church isn’t a place where you can go and say “I’m sorry for everything I’ve done this week” and then wake up Monday morning the same way you did last week.
The whole point of Christianity is that you and I are to be on a journey. A journey during which we become more and more like Jesus. People have often said that the church is a hospital for the sinner. Yes, that’s true, but we’re a hospital where we’re taught how to be healthy not where we’re bandaged and told to go out and do the same thing that brought us there in the first place.