I’d like to issue a challenge to those of you in my audience who still attend fundamentalist churches. (The rest of you can try this too as a control group). The quest is a simple one: next Sunday try to find Jesus in your pastor’s sermon.
In a Christian church one wouldn’t imagine that it would be too hard to find Christ. Yet, as I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time last month listening to sermons from some who are proclaimed to be the premier fundamentalist speakers in America, it has struck me that Jesus is strangely absent most of the time. It’s profoundly disturbing.
I’ve heard sermons about dad’s teaching their kids, and how to deal with life’s struggles (pray more and be more thankful!) and all kinds of guilt trips and pressure to conform…but there’s no Jesus. Nothing is more awful to behold than Christians who have forgotten who Christ is or the centrality of The Gospel in our message. It’s tragic. It breaks my heart.
Without Christ there’s no redemption for our broken condition, just condemnation of our struggles. Without Christ there is no power to vanquish sin and death just the weakened arm of flesh trying desperately for a perfection it can never attain. Without Christ there’s no joy but rather a dreadful commandment to rejoice without really knowing why. Without Christ we are of all men most miserable.
Oh, and if you really want to get weirded out, try this too: count the number of time the preacher references himself and his own stories and then compare them to the mentions of the works and ministry of Christ. You’ll likely be surprised.