I don't usually do this but I felt compelled to blog in the middle of writing this Sunday's message. I know a sermon is going to have an impact on people when it's first of all had an impact on me. Sermonizing (my word) can be tough sometimes. (I'd say it's like giving birth...but my wife probably would dispute that statement on the grounds I don't know what I'm talking about!)
My message Sunday is going to be about Religion vs. Jesus. This is an absolutely huge, important concept. How many of us think we're religious? How many people say, "Oh...I'm Lutheran...or I'm Catholic...or I'm just Christian...or I'm whatever" and think that because they've followed the program, kept the rules, done the church thing (or not) that everything's cool with God?
It's a trap that our Opponent lays out there certainly for every single person on this planet...but even for, perhaps, especially for Christian pastors. Our Opponent wants me as a pastor to think, "I'm so religious. I've given my life to the Lord. I must be so much more special than so and so because I've lived a pretty good life. I've kept the rules (for the most part)."
What a sinful mess those thoughts are! And that's what religion is all about. Using my man-made standards to puff myself up while looking down on everyone else who doesn't live up to them. Never mind God's standards. There's a hypocrite in all of us. We need to repent of that. We need to repent of religion with its man-made rules and find out again, or for the first time, that it's really all about a person. It's about Jesus.
Man, sometimes learning about Jesus and his perfect sacrifice on the cross for me...it really hits home. I'm so glad Jesus is my Savior and that He saves, not religion.
I'm excited to share law and gospel this Sunday during our Fall Kickoff. I know God's going to bless this message. I've got a few people I've been praying for too that God would give me the courage to invite them to church this Sunday. I've been praying all week too that our postcard mailings might prompt some people to come and hear this message too. -- I'd love nothing more than to share my message (really God's message) with a packed house on Sunday.