Monday, March 23, 2009

March 29 - 5th Sunday of Lent

"Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life." John 12:24-25.

I am not preaching this week; however, I do have a few illustrations to offer up in regards to this scripture passage. A few weeks ago, I preached on Matthew's version of this statement. In that sermon I said:
Keeping the church alive is not our mission. That’s not our primary focus. If we put all our efforts into keeping the doors open, the lights on, and keeping enough people in the pews to keep the bills paid, then we’ve become like a sports team that has all but forgotten about the game it is supposed to be playing. If all our efforts go into saving our church’s life, then we will surely lose it, because we’ve already lost our focus. But those who lose their life, those who are willing to give their life away, for Christ’s sake, for the sake of the gospel, will find that their life has been restored.
(The full sermon is here.)

Likewise I remember hearing a chaplain at a boy scout camp use an apple to illustrate this scripture: He took the apple and cut it in half. I believe he cut it in half sideways, so that the hidden star was revealed. Then he took out the seeds and asked, "how many seeds are there?" The scouts counted the seeds. Then he said, "If you plant these seeds in the ground, how many apples will they produce?" Of course there is no way of knowing, although it is likely that many, many apples will come from these few seeds. It was a simple, yet effective, object lesson.

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