Summary: A Pastoral Care message based on the text’s narrative challenging God’s people in my care to put their faith in Jesus into practice.
Theme: Practical Faith
Purpose: to be the Holy Spirit’s second witness challenging God’s people in my care to put their faith in Jesus into practice.
Response: Individuals will indicate their desire to grow in the practice of their faith by requesting a “NEXT STEPS” handout.
Pattern: A Pastoral Care message based on the text’s narrative
IDENTIFYING THE PROBLEM
Many of us here today are spiritually sick. We are Christians. We have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior but we are not spiritually healthy.
1. Martin Luther King Jr. understood this when he wrote, "There is so much frustration in the world because we have relied on gods rather than God. We have genuflected or bowed down before the god of science only to find that it has given us the atomic bomb, producing fears and anxieties that science can never mitigate. We have worshipped the god of pleasure only to discover that thrills play out and sensations are short - lived. We have bowed before the god of money only to learn that there are such things as love and friendship that money cannot buy and that in a world of possible depressions, stock market crashes, and bad business investments, money is a rather uncertain deity. These transitory gods are not able to save or bring happiness to the human heart. Only God is able. It is faith in Him that we must rediscover."
2. In an earlier sermon, "Rediscovering Lost Values" (1954), King points out the position of our society: though full of knowledge and scientific discovery, we must go back and rediscover precious values we have lost.
He names two specific values: FIRST. That this is a moral universe, the laws of which we violate at our own peril; SECOND. That there is a God over all, whom we unconsciously have drifted away from through our materialism. As King puts it, "We must remember that it’s possible to affirm the existence of God with your lips and to deny the existence of God with your life. The most dangerous form of atheism is not theoretical atheism but practical atheism."
Citation: Kevin Miller, " A Letter to American Christians: A powerful message from Martin Luther King, Jr.," Leadership Newsletter. © 2001 Christianity Today, Inc.
3. Society as a whole is not the only patient stricken with “practical atheism.” One pastor readily admits, “There’s a lot of atheism behind my ministry. The kind of sermons I preach--you don’t have to have a divine intrusion to make them credible. The kind of pastoral care I do--you don’t need a miracle to make it work. I told them, "Look, you say you want the budget increased 10 percent next year. That’s crazy. I mean, we were 2 percent behind this year. The economy, Republican administration, and everything else--you’re crazy. There’s no way the budget can go up 10 percent!" But the lay people went ahead and agreed to the 10 percent increase. They had a visitation campaign, and two months later, a lay leader gets up at a congregational meeting and says, "I want to announce that we not only subscribed next year’s budget in full, we went 2 percent over." The place broke out in applause.