The gospel fruit from last week’s sermon is falling off the tree. Person after person has contacted me to share how powerful the message was, how they are still thinking about it, how they were called to repentance and faith. In fact, gospel fruit is dropping all over the place. Yesterday I met with a guy who ran out of our Sunday service the first time he visited because he was so freaked by the “spiritual experience.” He was jaded and cynical but appreciated the kind of Christians he worked with. Yesterday he told me that he had been walking around with his past weighing heavily upon him, feeling that he had such a great penalty to pay. Then he said: “but then I realized Somebody paid that penalty for me. I am different. People are telling me I’m different!” This fruit is not because of great preaching but because of a great Christ. However, the greatness of Christ was more plain in the dimness of my own sin, my broken past.
The power of the Gospel to reconcile our past and present sin is all too often absent from the pulpit. Preachers hide behind the facade of professionalism, while our people struggle to understand how the incarnation really makes a difference. Our churches are longing for a little Christ in thier midst that shares their failures as well as their successes. They want to know a pastor who is truly human, so human that the need for the divine shoots through the roof. We constantly say that we are an imperfect people who cling to a perfect Christ. On Sunday, people got to see my imperfections next to the glorious perfection of Jesus Christ.
I guess this post is a reminder of the centrality of the gospel in church planting. A reminder to allow the full breadth of redemption to be experienced in our own discipleship and heard by other disciples. In the end, we are simply fellow sheep in need of the Great Shepherd. Our identity is disciple but our role is pastor, and because of that we bear the great responsibility of displaying redemption from our own stories, not just the stories of the Bible.