Wow. I had a hard time coming up with devotional assignments this week.
Going in, I knew that the topic was an “urban legend.” Specifically, the one where people say, “As long as I am sincere, I can do whatever I want…” So that’s what programming team really planned around. That’s what I was expecting.
That is not really where we are going during the sermon! In the sermon, we will be looking at the difference between grace and works, and how no amount of “sincere” works can compare to understanding grace and faith as the means to salvation. I understand the concept, though I do not understand its relationship to the urban legend in question.
I spent a lot of time in prayer over this one. In general, I try to steer the devotions in the direction of encouraging or teaching believers. Those who are already part of the body of Christ. Not that it is inaccessible to those who aren’t, but it is not geared towards them. So for instance, this week we are talking about the difference between grace and works and the impact on salvation. How do you gear the week’s devotionals in order to encourage believers? The audience should already understand personally how that has impacted their lives. We may be able to write so that they are encouraged to share this with their friends in a compelling way, etc. But 5 days of assignments spread across multiple individuals with a somewhat contrived goal is awkward. Even after prayer, I was quite unsettled.
What I sent out, after more prayer and a lot of brainstorming, was that we would look at concepts surrounding “sincerity”. When it comes down to it, the question is about truth. Are we justifying our actions based on our history and experience, or are we clinging to the truth? Do our words match the way we live? If not, are we transparent about our frailty and need for forgiveness? Do our words and sentiments of sympathy and compassion play themselves out in real need-meeting and sacrifice?
It’s not going to match what is spoken on this week. It’s going to be somewhat related to the urban legend in question. But above all, it is about putting truth before our feelings and experience. It is about offering more than just words, not out of obligation, but out of thanks for the great opportunity we have been given through Jesus alone.