My dad is a neat guy. He is probably one of the smartest men I know and yet is way too humble too ever make you feel like he is the smartest man you know. Even though he never attended college I dare say he could go toe to toe with just about any one of us “seminary guys” and come out leaving us licking our wounds, theologically speaking. He also has the amazing ability of building just about anything you can think of (a trait I often bemoan that I did not inherit). Dad’s specialty is glass. As far back as I can remember my dad has worked for various glass companies. He cuts and installs glass for business of various sizes. This may not sound that great to you, but think about it for a minute. Imagine life with out glass. No mirrors, no windows, no windshields etc. Adding glass to something can sometimes really make it stand out.
You may not think so, but working with glass can be really dangerous if you do not know what you are doing. I would, from time to time, go with my dad to help him with a job. I was not much help, but it was cool to see what he did for a living. Through that experience my dad taught me two very important rules when working with glass.
1) Don’t drop the glass.
2) Don’t let the glass cut you.
Glass is sharp, wicked sharp. It’s so sharp that sometimes it will cut you and you don’t even know it did until you notice that you are bleeding all over the place. It can be kind of unnerving to look down and see your clothes covered in blood only to find out that your hand has been bleeding for ten minutes and you did not even notice. Yes, I do know that from experience. Glass is delicate, dangerous, and beautiful. If handled correctly it can be a work of art. Handled in the wrong way though it can be pretty destructive. The fact is, if you handle it long enough you are going to come out with a few cuts.
I was writing a sermon the other day and something strange happened, it cut me. If this has never happened too you before you won’t really understand what that means, but for those of you who have experienced it, you know what I am talking about. It cut deep. I was about half way though writing when it hit me, “I’m doing the opposite of everything I am going to be telling a bunch of people to do. What do you do with that? I began to think of this verse;
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
That’s Hebrews 4:12. I have heard that verse no less than 1,000 times in my life. For a very long time I always figured it was saying that the word of God is something that I need to use as a kind of weapon. I get up and preach and then the word starts cutting into the hearts of those I am preaching to, causing them too begin to see the errors of their ways and repent. I’m starting to see that while that may be one way of looking at it, in my experience it plays it self out in another way. If you handle scripture long enough, you’re going to come out with a few cuts.
I am starting to realize that sermon writing should hurt from time to time. If you are really serious about preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ it is going to reveal some really ugly parts of your own heart. The beauty of it is that, that’s the way it’s supposed to work. Sermon writing is an art, and good art is painful.
On the flip side of that idea; if the sermons that you write or the lessons that you teach out of scripture do not ever cause you to be uneasy with yourself, it may be time to evaluate if you are really preaching the gospel. Preaching is one of those rare activities that every once in a while you want to come out bleeding when you are done.
What do you do when you realize you have been cut?
1) Thank God that his word still has power in your life.
2) Allow yourself to bleed and be honest about it with those you trust.
3) Share your scars with those around you.