Villains of the Bible – First in a sermon series by Pastor Mark Harris
22 Nov 2020 – Your Love is Your Life
3 Jan 2021 – 1 Timothy 5 – How Christians Treat Others
Reality is hard, and we don’t like it. So we blind ourselves, and others blind us, to the truth, to the real world.
I work in Northern Virginia (NOVA) outside of Washington DC, a bustling metropolis of steel and glass, American history, and Federal workers, from janitors to the President. For decades, this area has been a stronghold of Democratic politics, with Republicans having nary a chance at the ballot box. I am also taking tap dancing lessons in NOVA, and the fine arts in America are another area in which you are more likely to get kicked by a Donkey than trampled by an Elephant. Last week, America endured a bitter presidential election, and waited days for the results. So, I was unsurprised when I heard exclamations of joy and sighs of relief from class members.
How to eliminate rotten wood – the thoughts, word, and actions that drag you down, whether they seem big or small – in your life.
The wooden plank on the deck gave a soft “squish” as I stepped down. I pushed a little harder with my heel and the wood collapsed, leaving a hole in the deck, and exposing the dirt several feet below. “Ugh” I thought, and began to check the rest of the deck for rotten spots. In total, only five boards needed to be replaced, all touching each other in the same part of the deck. I looked up. There was a leak in the gutter above the rotten spots, and I recalled seeing a nearly continuous stream of water hitting this part of the deck during several rainstorms over the past several months. While working on the deck, and lying in bed thinking about it, I recognized many parallels between rotten wood and sin in our lives.
Jeremiah was a mighty man of God, a towering figure in the late history of the Kingdom of Judah. He was also considered a traitor to his beleaguered nation at one of the most awful times in their history. How did he endure in ministry over 40 years when it seemed the whole world was against him?
Prominent anti-Christians argue that religion is dangerous because it creates certainty. Several years ago, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC hosted an exhibit that read “Belief + Doubt = Sanity.” Pressure is overwhelming to “go with the flow.” Confidence in one’s convictions, when they differ from certain politically acceptable convictions of others, is condemned. This censure is so much the stronger when the opinions held seem to contradict “science,” whether or not they do. Someone said, “Few are those who see with their own eyes, think with their own minds, and feel with their own hearts.”
But it is not enough to be certain. Many Christians know the truth and yet do not speak it or practice it. Many think the Truth, speak the Truth, and act in Truth for a season, perhaps several years. But like Demas they start strong and then fade away. Some modern Christian celebrities have renounced their faith. To endure in service is to know, speak, and do, consistently and faithfully, for a lifetime.