Summary: The sermon weaves a chapter of Max Lucado’s "He Chose the Nails" with reflections on freedom from sin and more.

“Experience the Passion” Series

“Experience Ultimate Wholeness” (The Cross)

March 19/20, 2005

** This sermon weaves a chapter from Lucado’s "He Chose the Nails" with reflections on freedom from the conseguences of sin and ultimate wholeness.

(Max Lucado: He Chose the Nails) “What would have happened to the Beast if the Beauty had not appeared? You know the story. There was a time when his face was handsome and his palace cheerful. But that was before the curse, before the shadows fell on the castle of the prince, before the shadows fell on the heart of the prince. And when the darkness fell, he hid. Secluded in his castle, he was left with glistening snout and curly tusks and a very bad mood.

But all that changed when the girl came. What would have happened to the Beast if the Beauty had not appeared? Better yet, what would have happened if she had not cared? And who would have blamed her if she hadn’t? He was such a . . . beast. Hairy. Drooling. Roaring. Defying. Ill mannered. And she was such a beauty. Stunningly gorgeous. Contagiously kind. If ever two people lived up to their names, didn’t Beauty and the Beast? Who would have blamed her if she hadn’t cared? But she did. And because Beauty loved the Beast . . .

The story is familiar, not just because it’s an exquisite fairy tale. It’s familiar, I suspect, because it reminds us of ourselves. There is a beast within each of us. It wasn’t always so. There was a time when our face was beautiful and palace cheerful. But that was before the curse, before the shadows fell across Adam’s garden, before the shadows fell across Adam’s heart. And ever since that curse, we’ve been different. Beastly. Ugly. Defiant. Angry. Ill mannered. We do things we know we shouldn’t and wonder why.

Max Lucado is one of my heroes. Not just because his gift with words is so extraordinary. Not just because he is so perceptive with Scripture and human nature. He’s one of my heroes because he is so ordinary. Apparently he can be a madman in a car. His sin makes me feel better about my sin. Here’s one of his stories (could have been one of mine). He says:

The ugly part of me showed his beastly face the other night. I was driving on a two-lane road about to become one lane. A woman in a car beside me was in the lane that continued. I was in the one that stopped. I needed to be ahead of her. My schedule was, no doubt, more important than hers. After all, am I not a man of the cloth? Am I not a courier of compassion? An ambassador of peace? So I floored it.

She did, too. And when my lane ended, she was a fender ahead of me. So I growled and let her go ahead. Over her shoulder she gave me a sweet little bye-bye wave. Grrr. I started to dim my headlights. Then I paused. The beastly part of me said, “Wait a minute. Am I not called to shed light on dark places, to illuminate the shadows?” So I put a little high beam in her rearview mirror.

She retaliated . . . by slowing down. To a crawl. This woman was mean. She couldn’t have been going more than 15 miles per hour. And I wasn’t going to take my lights out of her rearview mirror. Like two stubborn donkeys, she kept it slow and I kept it bright. After more unkind thoughts than I dare confess, the road widened and I started to pass. Wouldn’t you know it? A red light left the two of us side by side at an intersection. What happened next contains both good news and bad. The good news is, she waved at me. The bad news is, her wave was not one you’d want to imitate.

Moments later, conviction surfaced. “Why did I do that?” I’m typically a calm guy, but for 15 minutes I was a beast! Only two facts comforted me: One, I don’t have a fish symbol on my car, and Two, even the apostle Paul had similar struggles. “I do not do what I want to do, and I do the things I hate,” he said. (Romans 7.15)

I suspect it’s one of those preacher vices. Mike Breaux tells of a time when another car cut his off. As he pulled around the dork he yelled and he pointed – he was administering ministerial discipline. Then, as he pulled in front of the guy, he remembered that he had a clergy sticker on his back window, and he was nearing his church. That could be embarrassing. So he pulled into the church next door. You guys here at Capital City can be grateful that your ministerial staff is exceptional, far more mature and gentle and godly when we drive. And you can be grateful that there are no fish symbols on our cars.

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