Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Designed for a day devoted to reclaiming inactive members, this sermon argues that the spiritual life is like a piece of equipment: unpack, read the instructions, assemble, plug in the power.

Nothing you purchase comes ready to go. You can’t buy

anything ready to use. Everything takes finishing and

finagling before you can use it. You would think that when

you have paid good money for your purchase, it would be

ready. But not so. Something else always has to be done.

You have to unwrap it, cook it, cool it, register it, license it,

clean it, power it, whatever. Nothing is ever really ready to


Even if you accept the fact that nothing is quite ready to go,

you might think that it won’t be difficult to get it ready. But I

call your attention to one of the world’s great

understatements, something that appears on packages all

the time, disguising agonies to come. I am speaking of the

phrase, “Some Assembly Required.” Do you know that

phrase? Have you seen that line? “Some Assembly


You met it last Christmas Eve, when, after the youngsters

had gone to bed, you got out the crate that contained a new

bicycle. You thought you would just lift it out of the box and

put it on the road, right? But you hadn’t noticed that little

phrase, “some assembly required”, and you sat up until 3:00

a.m. with nuts and bolts and wrenches and screwdrivers to

build a bicycle. By the way, did you ever find those missing

parts? “Some assembly required”. What a deception! It

should say, “Trained mechanic required”.

But the truth, again, is that nothing is ever really ready to

use. Nothing comes ready to go. Everything takes finishing

and finagling before you can use it. And that is true of faith,

just as it is of bicycles. That is true of your spiritual life, just

as it is of mechanical things. Our spiritual life is going to

need work before it is ready to roll, and, though we may not

have noticed it, “some assembly” will be “required”.

The author of the Book of Hebrews must have seen this

issue in the lives of the earliest Christians, because he wrote,

“[Let us not forsake] the assembling of ourselves together,

as the manner of some is”. It would seem that even at that

early date, some folks were forgetting that their spiritual lives

were not ready to go without preparation. Let us not forsake

the assembling of ourselves together. Some assembly is


Let me tell you the story of a piece of equipment that arrived

this week in the church office. It will illustrate what I am

saying today.

One of our members was good enough to purchase and pay

for a very fine printer, one that we can connect to our

computers and print out posters, newsletters, and other

special items. The printer was delivered this week. Do you

think that it was ready to go the instant it came into the

office? Do you think that all I had to do was wave a magic

wand and the thing began to turn out masterly materials?

Not on your life.


First we had to unpack it. It came in a huge thick box, and

once we cut that open, we found Styrofoam packing,

cardboard inserts, yards of orange tape, and several plastic

envelopes with a line marked, “Tear here”, which, of course,

no one other than the Biblical Samson can actually tear. We

had to unpack this critter, and that was quite a task.

A good many of us are like that. There is a lot to unpack

before we can ever even get started on being what God

intended us to be. We hide so much that needs to be


Some of us are holding on to guilt, for example. We did

something we know was wrong. We’ve never told anyone

about it, but we sit all packaged up, deathly afraid somebody

will find out. In my experience, and according to the Bible,

“you can be sure that your sins will find you out.” It’s

pointless to hide guilt, but we do it anyway. We need to

unpack hidden guilt and secret sin.

Or some of us are enmeshed in shame. Guilt and shame

are not exactly the same thing. Guilt is what I feel for what I

have done. It relates to something that I should not have

done, and I know it. Shame is what I feel for who I am, or

maybe for what was done to me. Shame is “just because”.

Many of us have not unpacked our shame. Someone did

something unspeakable with us sexually, when we were little,

and it’s stayed there, because we feel forever soiled. We’ve

never unpacked that. Or someone told us that because we

were black – and not just black, but dark-skinned – we were

not as good as others, and, even though up here in our

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