Summary: The purpose of this message is to encourage ministers of the gospel to continue proclaiming the gospel of Christ.
“Lessons Learned from Dealing with Dirt”
-Reverend A. LaMar Torrence, Pastor of Cross of Life Lutheran Church
True disciples of Christ are constantly in a state of learning what it means to be more like Christ. Even as pastors, preachers, and leaders, we are always learning more about the multi-dimensions and dynamics of the kingdom of God. And just when we think we have an understanding, we are reminded that knowledge is too wonderful for me, his knowledge is too lofty for us to attain- his thoughts are not our thoughts nor his ways or ways. So we are always learning what it is to be more like Christ loving God with all our heart, soul, and mind. We are on a continual search for truth and application in our daily lives. Our search for truth is motivating factor in our worship. In fact what makes worship ‘a good’ worship experience is not the shape and genre of our worship (how we worship), but is it is the character of those who worship-their desire to worship in spirit and in truth. It is our desire for clean hearts and renewed spirits. It is our continual reformation through our encounters with God and gaining divine revelation. It is our desire not only to become the image of Christ but in fact to be the body of Christ manifested in our communities. The disciple wants to be ‘bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh”. The disciple wants to be that bride without spot or wrinkle. The disciple wants a true encounter with Christ.
And this is a difficult task for those of us living “real lives” in the world outside of these four walls. We have a desire to be in the world yet not of the world. And it is difficult because our world is filled with complex issues that are not black and white. But the truth is our world is becoming filled with grey areas of uncertainty, fear, and doubt.
i. The truth is that we are now cloning animals for produce. The fried chicken you eat today may be a clone of the chicken you ate last week.
ii. The truth is that stem cell research is moving to the forefront of medical and political debates.
iii. The truth is that although many churches preach and advocate abstinence, there are more cases of “immaculate conception” appearing everyday in the community of the church. Teenagers as well as some pre-teens are having sex.
iv. The truth is I have yet to officiate a marriage whereby both parties where virgins.
v. And while on the subject of marriage our state Supreme Court has stated that gay and lesbians are entitled to marry under our current legislation. Furthermore NJ is granting civil unions.
And it is easy for us, to say that these issues have do not have any bearing on our daily lives but the truth is that would be an ignorant misconception. It does affect us as directly, especially in the areas of ministry. The church is being challenged to offer voice and take position. We are in fact apart of what Bill O’ Reilly calls a ‘culture war between traditionalists and secular progressives whereby there is no middle ground. And I agree that there is a culture war going on; but the war actually exist between truth and what Frank Rich of the NY Times calls “truthiness"; that is what is authentic versus what is an “image of moral correctness”. And we in the church know what putting on an image of moral correctness; a form of godliness but our hearts are far from him”. Some of us put it on authentically every Sunday. Oh yes, we know how to dress it up and tone it down, when we have to. But God is not pleased. I believe that he does want us to live truthful authentic lives. But that can only be done if we begin to embrace truth.
Frank Rich, in this book The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The decline and fall of Truth contends that we have become a society that rarely questions what we are told. There has been a rise in "truthiness" and a decline in truth". The truth is remixed into a 24/7 "infotainment" culture has made us into a people that has stopped thinking critically. We are more interested in what’s going on with Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, Whitney and Bobby, Madonna and Angelina and their adoption issues or “who is the real father of Anna Nicoles baby”. And the real issues like the crisis in Darfur, the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans, or the gang wars in our own back yards go ignored. Because of our desire to be entertained with by the dirt exposed on the rich and famous and the notorious and infamous, we allow the truth to be distorted and either we don’t see it or we simply don’t care.