wrestling with light

so, i’m preaching this weekend (and next) at my church. and i’m going to talk about identity (the series title is “embracing our identity”). and i have this highly annoying thing going on:

i’m building a three-part sentence — or, at least, that’s the plan at this point. the first section is you are. this is an existential reflection on the fact that we are created beings. and, moreso, that we are created in the image of god. i’m planning on spending a bit of time on one of god’s chief characteristics: passion. and that we have this god-trait in us also.

then, the second section adds a word to the first sentence: you are god’s. this is, obviously, talking about the fact that we belong to god.

the third section, in my current very-rough draft, is: you are god’s chosen. This won’t be a discussion of election; rather, my plan was to talk about what it means to be chosen to be the image-bearers of god in the world.

but i have two rubs:
1. the second week of the series, i’m planning on talking about what it means — given our identity — to live missionally in the world. but this third section seems to be already going there. and my wife — rightly so — is concerned that i’m going to spend too much of my time on “doing”, and not enough time on knowing that our identity is in “being” the beloved of god. so, i’m wondering if i should just stop after the first two sections, and leave the third for next week.
2. then, i feel like i’m supposed to use the little C.S.Lewis short story The Man Born Blind, and talk about Light. i feel like god gave me a nudge about this. but it’s so esoteric, and i’m both concerned that the people in my church won’t get it (i’m not very clear on it myself); and i’m also concerned that i’m forcing it in here. my thought was to develop it as part of what it means to be the image-bearers of god in the world (jesus says, “i am the light of the world.” but we are also told that we are the light of the world). but again, maybe it’s better — if i use that at all — to save it for the second week.


then again, maybe god nudged me to this idea just so i would wrestle with it and sweat about it and struggle with it — and never preach it.

give me clarity, god.

[[update: i’ve decided to push the third sentence — you are god’s chosen — to next week and make it the whole message then. this allows me to more fully focus on our identity as beloved created beings this week. i may bring A Man Born Blind into it next week — but it no longer fits this week.]]

11 thoughts on “wrestling with light”

  1. I’m not God, but I’ll put in my $.02. What if the points were you are God’s reflection? This could eliminate some of the election/chosen confusion as they meditate on the message afterwards. We can only reflect that which is looking at us. The reflection could talk about light, an artist revealing himself in his masterpiece, “little Christs,” 2 Cor. 3:18, etc…

    Then the following week talk about reflecting God’s mission.

    As for the story… I’m not familiar with it, but if God gives a nudge, God will prevent it from going over their heads.

    For what it’s worth…

  2. Use the Friday service folks as your guinea pigs. Try out the story on them (us) and see if it flies. You know you will have no shortage of critique from us! ha

  3. I would definately re-order your sentence. Where as you are is LAST. Stating that “you are” is totally subject to the previous two and I think it makes a greater point in saying that we cannot be without the other two. Starting with “you are” screams “RATIONAL THOUGHT” in my mind.

    Regardless I know you are a man of God who seeks to speak his truth, HIS power is far greater than my words and you will effectively communicate the word of God to your church. No matter what words you utter.

    Peace that passes all understanding to you this week.

  4. What if, in the first week, you focused on being chosen for adoption (focusing more on “being” God’s beloved), and then treated week #2 as an expansion of what it means to be “chosen.” That way you’re “being” before “doing,” but also linking the “being” and the “doing” in one word, making it a bit more holistic.

    It’s kind of like double-clicking on “chosen” in week #2 to see more ramifications of what it means to be adopted (sons and daughters grow up and help out with the family business = partnering with God in his mission in the world).

  5. You have cajones asking people to input into your message like this! I like it as is! I also like Mikey’s idea of trying it out on Fri & then you have 48 hours to fix it. This is going to ROCK! People come in more broken than we know. Also, I don’t think there’s a lot of “election” confusion here. It’s a non-issue for 90+ %. Gracias!

  6. hmm, this feels like familiar ground from my sermon last. throw caution to the wind, I wholeheartedly agree that we should never be afriad of abstraction or loosely tied together puzzle pieces (in the instance of CS Lewis).. after all.. sometimes the swing bridges that people make in their own hearts lead them to entirely different but equally as poignant territory as our sermon roadmaps!

    that’s what I found anyway.

  7. a while back you said you didn’t believe in strategic planning anymore, or something like that…you said you would post about it….will you? thanks

  8. sure, rose – though i doubt it will be very profound or life-changing! i’ll try to do that in the next week or so.

  9. Wherever the final decision came from to start the church service with “You are”, it was a brilliant decision! When I heard the words “you are” on Friday night, you immediately think “you are what”. As in, you have to hear the rest of the message to hear what answers the “you are” statement, that is almost like a hanging question. The sermon was wonderful, and definately had the stick factor that many messages are lacking these days.

    C.S. Lewis’ The Man Born Blind would be an interesting example to use, and I think the majority of the people at church would get it (Let’s face it our church doesn’t exactly have a normal “church going” type of crowd), but then, isn’t that what we love about it? LOL. It would be interesting to see however, how you would manage to tie The Man Born Blind into the series that we are currently on at church. To me, that story screams a leap of faith, in an odd, fictional sort of way. The man thought that he was looking for light and was willing to give everything to find it. Sort of like people do with God, and sort of like a parable, if you have everything, would you sell it all to enter the kingdom of God? I think the man all along was looking for light, but maybe since some refer to Jesus as “the light of the world” it could be tied in that way.

    Either way, go ahead and tie in C.S. Lewis if it seems appropriate. Honestly, I think you could stand up on the stage and make funny faces for an entire sermon and people would remember it. Maybe an extreme example, but what I am saying is usually when you preach at church, you make an impact, I’ve heard people talking long after sermon’s you have given. Besides, have you ever heard the Friday night crowd, or the Sunday crowd boo any service? LOL

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