Summary: Today is Palm Sunday, the day when Jesus opened his heart for all to see. In his heart, we see where his true treasure was.
The Heart of Christ
April 9, 2006
Back in February, Tony Campolo addressed the National Pastor’s Convention in San Diego, California. He told a story about the pastor in his church (he attends an African American Church in Philadelphia) speaking to the graduating high school seniors of the church. The pastor was trying to make the point that their legacy was going to consist of more than just their résumé’s. He told them that they were going to ultimately be judged by their life-commitment to Jesus Christ.
Campolo said that the preacher looked out over all of these young people and said, in the way only a Black preacher can say, “You are all gonna die! Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not for a long time. But someday, you are going to die. Someday, they will lower you down in the ground and throw dirt over your casket. And then your family and friends will come back to the church and eat ham sandwiches and potato salad.”
What matters, after all is said and done, is the impact you have on the world for Christ. Has the world been able to see Christ through your eyes? Has your neighborhood been able to catch a glimpse of Jesus through you? Does your workplace know a little more about Jesus because you are an employee? Has your family been able to see Jesus in your actions? When all is said and done, and you are in the ground and the left-over potato salad has been thrown in the trash, will they be able to say that the Kingdom of God on earth came a little closer because you had been here?
So here is the message for today. You are all going to die! That may not be the message you want to hear or expect to hear on Palm Sunday when we’re supposed to be happy and joyous. But that is the message. You’re all going to die. And on that day, there will be folks taking stock of your life. They will be remembering you and the things you did…or didn’t do. What do you suppose they will remember?
Not too long ago, I had a wonderful conversation with one of my sons. He’s getting married in July. He and Megan have been talking about children. They have been asking themselves when they will be ready for that important step. They are both in the mid-twenties and so are not in a hurry, but still, Matthew is looking forward to being a father.
I desperately want Matthew to be a better father than I was when he was growing up. So, as we were talking, I told him about all the times I had been a lousy dad. I told him I was sorry for all the times that I yelled too much and didn’t listen enough. I apologized for those times when I was too busy, when I had other things on my mind. I told him I was sorry for not paying more attention to what was important for him.
He told me something that I’ll never forget. He said, “Dad, I don’t remember any of that stuff. Do you know how many of my friends don’t have dads at all? He said, “I remember you’re always being there when I needed you.”
I have a great kid. But the fact of the matter is that, despite his faulty memory, someday I am going to have to stand before someone who will remember my life. Someday, I will have to stand before Christ, and he will ask for an accounting of my living. Someday, while my kids and friends are having conversation around their second cup of coffee in the church’s fellowship hall, I will have to lay it all on the line…all of the times I’ve messed up, all of the times I betrayed my professed faith, all of the times I acted in ways that give lie to my Sunday morning confessions, all the times that I’ve sinned and not really cared about it.
Jesus is going to want to know about my heart. He is going to want to know what I have kept in my heart. He is going to want to know if my heart has been grounded in the Word and tested in service. He is going to want to know if my heart has found residence in the faces of the poor and outcast. He is going to want to know if my heart has been open to everyone regardless of gender, race, creed, national origin, theological position, denominational membership, or anything else that divides the human family. He is going to want to know if my heart has ached for those who have not heard the good news. In short, he is going to want to know if my heart has been in tune with his heart.