Summary: This is a sermon designed for confirmands but also applicable for the general congregation.
The Answer in You
(A Sermon on Confimration Sunday) 2 Corinthians 13:5-10
Introduction: Today is confirmation Sunday. This morning we’ll be confirming seven confirmands: Chris Franklin, Phillip Haines, Nick Hoover, Colton Reinke, Jasmine and Robert Turpen and Lochland Vaughn. One of the things these confirmands have done is examined the Christian faith. Now I would invite each of you confirmands to examine yourselves to see if Christ is present in you and if you’ll live by following Christ. A teacher once wrote the first exam question on the blackboard: "Which of the required readings in this course did you find the least interesting? Then, after the members of the class had had ten minutes in which to write about what was certainly, to many, a congenial topic, the teacher wrote the second question: "To what defect in yourself do you attribute this lack of interest?" Wham! A benign question suddenly turned into soul-searching anguish, because it required the students to look within themselves for the answer. It’s tough to examine yourself. The apostle Paul asked the Corinthians to do just that. "Examine yourselves," he told them, "to see if you’re holding to your faith. Test yourselves. Don’t you realize that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you fail to meet the test!" (2 Cor. 13:5). This is the question I want our seven confirmands to ask themselves today. I want to make three points in regard to this.
I. First, Confirmation Requires Self-Examination. Several years ago, there was a popular bumper sticker which read CHRIST IS THE ANSWER, It prompted cynics to quip: "What was the question?" Christ is the answer, but only when Christ is within a person. And the real question is that of Paul to the Corinthian believers: "Don’t you realize that Jesus Christ is in you?" The answer to the most important spiritual questions of life are usually found within. "Examine yourselves!" That’s where the real answers are to be found. Speaking of self-examination, over the last few years, women have become more aware of the importance of self-examination for breast cancer. A few years ago, Ophrah Winfrey had a program in which doctors and medical experts gave explicit instructions to the women viewers as to how to best conduct a breast examination and what exactly to look for. All the experts agreed that regular self-examination is one of the most important steps that a woman can take, to detect cancer early, next to going to a doctor and having mammography tests and pap smears. By analogy, it’s also important for those of us who are Christians to examine ourselves spiritually. We need to examine our inner motives and to gauge our behavior and attitudes periodically, to see if they match the person and spirit of Christ. It’s important to examine our lives to see if there’s any evidence of the cancer of sin and when we detect it, to approach the Great Physician to have it removed from our life.
II. Second, Self-Examination Requires We Look Within. Why is it we have such a difficult time examining our spiritual condition? Is it perhaps easier for us to blame someone or something else, than take responsibility for ourselves? Casey Stengal was manager of the New York Yankees baseball team when it won 10 American League pennants and 7 World Series championships. He possessed a homespun wisdom along with his knowledge of baseball. One time Mickey Mantle, one of the Yankees star players, was in a hitting slump. Each time he struck out he walked down into the dugout and kicked the water cooler. After watching him do that time after time, Casey finally went over one day and said, "Mickey, it ain’t that water cooler that’s gettin’ you out." It’s all too human for us to "kick water coolers," rather than look within and search for the real answers when things go wrong. "If only I had a more understanding wife or husband...if only I didn’t have this handicap...if only I’d been born into a better family," ...if only, if only if only...and the excuses go on and on. Just as Adam and Eve blamed the serpent in the garden. If you’re in a "hitting slump," look within.
III. Finally, The Answer We Need Cannot Be Found Outside Ourselves. Sometimes when we look outside ourselves for answers to our problems, we can look pretty foolish. One time, a student was suspected of cheating on exams. The evidence became conclusive, it seems, when the student from whom he was apparently copying his answers wrote on a particular question, "I don’t know." The hapless copyist wrote, "I don’t know either," and the case was closed. It’s something like this when we start looking for answers from someone or somewhere else rather than within our own selves. What I want to say to you young confirmands on your special day is this: don’t look to someone or something else for the answers to life’s problems. Don’t turn to some new age cult, or the internet, don’t turn to drugs or alcohol or even the pursuit of wealth and success for an answer. These are only escapes from yourself. Examine yourselves, look within. Jesus once told his disciples, "the Kingdom of God is within you." It’s “Christ in you, the hope of glory" who’s the answer to your most perplexing problems. Don’t look outside yourself. Begin to find the answer by looking within your own heart and soul. This is what Paul’s telling us. No one else can give you an answer outside of God, and no one else knows your heart and motives as you do. In just a few moments, I’m going to be asking you young confirmands some important questions. Searching questions. The answers to these questions can only come from within you. The answer’s in you. No one else can answer for you. Not your mother, not your father, not your brother or sister, not your friends or girlfriend or boyfriend. Only you and you alone can answer these questions. You’re no longer children. You’re starting to make decisions for yourselves. That’s one sign of maturity. Today’s decision will be the most important decision you make in your life. I want you to remember that the answer to these and many more questions that life will toss your way are found within, for Christ is in you.
Conclusion: It’s Christ in you who’s the answer. Never forget that. Remember your faith. Remember this day. Remember the answer in you.