A couple of weeks ago, as I turned on the air and the lights for our Monday morning Bible study, I noticed this sign stuck in the light socket. I half-grinned, searching my mind for a more appropriate way to get the message across to the different groups that meet here. “Hmm, maybe something white, simple font, good spacing…Ooooh! I can laminate it!!! I’ll use sticky-tack so it won’t leave any marks on the wall.” After coming out of my creative day-dream (curse of an ADHD adult), I realized that it didn’t take a fancy-fonted, laminated, sticky-tacked message to simply say, “TURN OFF AIR CON.” If anything, the current sign will reveal the $’saving truth just fine. Hey, it got my attention (and did again this morning, too).
I spent a significant amount of time over the years, as I prepared for ministry, listening and making notes on the different presentations and deliveries of pastors and communicators. The one thing I found myself saying over and over again was, “Why did he say it that way?!” I would make notes on the message revolving around a better way to say it or the way in which I would present it. Then, a few years ago, I was attending a funeral with my senior pastor at the church I was serving. The minister was “doing it all wrong,” carrying on through each element of the service with what I thought was very little passion and hope. When the time came for the minister to give his reflection on the life of the deceased and presence of God in the midst of tragedy, it hit me. “Whit…LISTEN!!!” It pained me when I looked down to notice that everything I had written on the bulletin was a criticism. Was I learning anything? Was I listening to the message? Was I missing what God was trying to say because I was focusing on the WAY in which it was said? No. No. Yes!
If we’re not careful, we’ll miss the truth of the gospel because we had our focus in the wrong place. If we worry about the setting, the attendees, the music, or even the speaker, we’ll miss the Spirit. Don’t be your own worst enemy when it comes to hearing the truth of Jesus Christ. Focus on the Spirit of God, who has committed to be with us where two or three are gathered in Christ’s name (Matthew 18.20). Truth is truth, no matter the imperfections of it’s delivery or presentation. Look for God in the midst of chaos, and 10 times out of 10 you’ll find Him there, working for salvation and for truth.
18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. —1 Corinthians 1