Summary: I used this sermon for Easter but it is simply message inviting people to follow Christ. The Big idea: "The resurrection changes everything."
FROM BOOMTOWN TO BOONDOCKS
Big Idea: The Resurrection changes everything!
1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
From Boomtown to Boondocks
In its heyday it was as a mining boomtown. It was a national center of ore, lead and zinc mining. It produced a vast amount of the ore and lead used for ammunition during WWI and WWII. In fact, over 75% of the bullets and bombs made during those wars were mined there. They could literally boast of helping the U.S. win the wars.
The population grew to over 20,000; their future looked prosperous and without end.
But something was happening even as the wealth and prestige grew. Inherent within their prosperity was their contamination. It was silently affecting everything and everyone.
• The ore, zinc and lead infiltrated the water system.
• The waste from the mining piled up into chat piles, some over 200 feet high and the run-off tainted the ponds and swimming holes and the wildlife.
• The dust from the chat piles floated over the town and literally coated it with lead – everyday.
The residents of Picher, Oklahoma discounted the threat and disregarded the contamination … the prosperity was too significant for it to be much of a concern but by the time Vickie and I lived in the neighboring town of Miami the contamination was undeniable and its consequences obvious.
The boomtown had become the boondocks.
The children in the school system were checked and it was found that 1 in 4 had high lead poising; that was 2.5 times the safety level. Lead had permeated everything. The federal government stepped in with a superfund and tried to rectify the problem. They literally removed 3 to 6 inches of topsoil from every yard and lot and replaced it with clean soil; but within a matter of a very very short amount of time the new soil was contaminated with lead. It had so permeated the area that nothing could escape. The government spent over 300 million dollars to no avail. About 10 years ago the EPA said that Picher was one of the most polluted and contaminated places in America. So the government began buying out the town … it was to be abandoned … there was no hope … the contamination was not reversible.
In 2008 a tornado destroyed 2/3 of the town and some of the 100 or so who refused to leave died and the rest left. Today it is a ghost town … contaminated by its prosperity. Its downfall was embedded within its success. Today ten people live there. All indications are that the death is permanent.
I think Picher, Oklahoma can serve as a parable.
Humanity has some things in common with this town in northeast Oklahoma.
1. THERE IS AN EVER-PERVASIVE CONTAMINANT CALLED SIN THAT HAS AFFECTED US THROUGH AND THROUGH.
The term used for sin in Ephesians 2 is “harmartia.” It is a marksman or shooting term and it means “to miss the mark.” The Bible teaches us that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Some may have missed the mark by a long shot – the proverbial couldn’t hit the side of a barn – and others by a lesser degree but we have all missed; we have all sinned. The result is a toxic contaminate that affects us through and through.
When we come to realize what sin is we discover it is not something that religion has invented; it is something with which life is permeated. It is failure at a very base and core level.