Summary: Too many people are slaves to their past mistakes.
In my opinion, one of the greatest televisions shows ever produced was the Andy Griffith show. I’m talking about the old black-and-white episodes when Ron Howard played a young Opie. One of my favorite episodes was “The Sermon for Today.” Here’s a question for you TV trivia buffs. What was the name of the church in Mayberry where everyone attended? It’s wasn’t First Baptist or First Methodist. Give up? It was called “The All Souls Church.” And in this particular episode they had a guest preacher all the way from New York who was going to preach on “What’s Your Hurry?” Dr. Harrison Everett Breen was played by actor David Lewis who went on to star on the soap opera General Hospital for 25 years.
Mayberry is pretty slow-paced but this preacher from NYC wanted to stress the need to slow down and enjoy life. He said, “Consider how our lives are today. Everything is run, run, run. We bolt our breakfast, we scan the headlines, we race to the office. We drive ourselves from morning to night. We have forgotten the meaning of the word relaxation. What has become of the simple pleasures of the past? Who can forget the old-fashioned band concert on the twilight on the village green? The joy, the serenity of just sitting and listening. We should strive to recapture this simple pleasure. And so I say to you my dear friends, ‘Relax. Slow down. Take it easy.’” At this point his voice is quiet and soothing and the camera pans to Barney who is falling to sleep. Some of you are familiar with that experience in church. First his eyes begin to cross, and he fights to stay awake, until finally his chin hits his chest and he’s dozing. At that very moment, Dr. Breen ends his message by shouting, “What’s your hurry?” Barney jumps up as if he’s ready to run a race.
As they’re leaving church Barney says, “Wonderful message, Reverend. You can’t ever hear too many sermons against sin.” After lunch, they decide to try to put the sermon into practice, so they plan a concert on the village green. Of course, they have to repair the bandstand, repair the band uniforms, and rehearse the band. As you might imagine, they spend the next few frantic hours working feverishly to get to the point where they can slow down, until they give up, worn out and exhausted. The comical point of the show was that it’s good to simplify, but you ruin it if you have to work too hard to simplify.
Those of us who live in East Texas live much more hectic lives than the good people of Mayberry. We rush around from place to place and seldom take time to rest. Do you need to simplify your life? That’s what this message is all about. The basic message Jesus gave His disciples when He sent them out was to SIMPLIFY. For many years I have followed a formula for preaching that I call the KISS theory. KISS stands for Keep It Simple and Short.
Let’s read the simple instructions Jesus gave His disciples in Mark 6:7-13.
“Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. These were his instructions: ‘Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.’ They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.”
There is great beauty in simplicity. The great medieval pastor Thomas à Kempis wrote: “By two wings man is lifted from the things of earth: simplicity and purity.”
This is a simple message. When Jesus taught it was profoundly simple, and simply profound. In these few verses Jesus gave us a simple approach to ministry; a simple attitude toward possessions; and a simple act to recover from failure. We’ll spend most of our time talking about how to recover from failure.
I. A SIMPLE APPROACH TO MINISTRY: Go out preaching and healing in the authority of Jesus
Jesus sent the disciples out with the good news and in verse 12 we read, “They went out and preached that people should repent.” The message of the Gospel is simple. I can summarize it in one sentence: God loves us, but because we’re sinners, we can’t enjoy a loving relationship with Him until we’re willing to repent.
A few years ago I visited the Arlington National Cemetery across the river from Washington D.C. It is a moving experience to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is an honor for a soldier to be chosen to serve as a Tomb Guard who marches back and forth in front of the Tomb. In the summer, the guard is changed every thirty minutes, and in the winter, the guards change every hour. Even at night, when the cemetery is closed the guards carry out their duty and change every two hours. When the Tomb Guard is being relieved of duty he always says to the Guard taking his place, “Post and orders remain as directed.” The new guard says, “Orders acknowledged.” And they do this 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in every kind of weather.