A friend stopped attending church because the pastor had preached one type of sermon for twenty years. The topics were different but the content and conclusion were the same. Jesus does not change, why should a pastor? The friend’s assessment was not entirely accurate, because a sermon does have a number of objectives. I do not feel comfortable when I agree totally with a sermon. It turns me into a fully-grown vegetable that turns stale and tasteless. People that have disagreed with my thoughts have greatly added to my growth and usefulness. Below are a few things that a sermon does for me.
Foremost, a sermon is not to please me but to feed me. It is like a buffet lunch or dinner. I sample and eat what I like. I do not always pick what is best for me and I do have frequent indigestions. I do not go to eat and go away hungry and I do not eat all the food. In time I learn to choose what is beneficial.
A sermon is like a medicine chest or even a drug store. It is where I go to fill a prescription. I am my own pharmacist and select the medication that best serves my ailing. The best and strongest medicine is harsher and more painful than the pain itself. In order to heal, the wound has to be cleaned and freed of infections. Paul recommended a little wine for the human interior (I Tim.5: 23).
The sermon is also a surgical tool. Many years ago, a growth on my wrist had to be removed. I had some other items removed via a laser. Our moral and spiritual make up has a tendency to adopt and grow undesirable attitudes and manners. Jesus’ sermon recommended amputation of our bodily members before we use them inappropriately (Mt.5: 27-30).
To me the sermon is like a hospital or a convalescent center. I did spent one and one-half year in three such places. Due to a severe fire accident, I had to learn to wait for healing, treatments and surgeries. During this time I read many sermons and had several ministers encouraged and discouraged me with their brief talks. All these helped me straighten out my mind and assisted me in repositioning me in the world. I had to rethink and readjust my life in order to be a productive human being.
I do not go to listen to a sermon to receive pleasure or satisfaction but to find something that helps me direct my life in such a way that I can keep on correcting and mending my ways. I am a pilgrim in this life and I have traveled some distance. The sermon has been a very necessary companion for my journey. I specially recommend the sermon that hurts the ego. I fear the sermon that comforts the soul constantly without healing the ego. Even as a Christian, my feet require washing (Jn.13: 7-8). That precisely is what a sermon does for me.