Thursday, April 28, 2005

Our Desire for Perfection

I watched "The Apprentice" again tonight. I wish I liked the people better. They all seem to be so self-absorbed. But I still like watching it because it's a great study in human nature and decision making.

There's nothing like pressure to bring out the best and the worst in us. The amazing thing about this show is that these people are supposedly the "best of the best" - chosen from a million applicants! Yet under pressure they all crack. You see their dark side - their pettiness, their pride, their self-preservation. This guy, Alex - he had it won tonight. He had it in the bag. But in the final moments - literally seconds - he lied to Trump. Then he did a poor job of covering his dishonesty. Trump fired him and it was a good call. Amazing.

The sad thing is that I'm just like Alex. So are you! Ah...the wonder of being human. No matter how polished we try to be we can't iron out all our wrinkles. We are permanently crooked. That's gotta make you wonder - Why is that? Why can't we get it right? It can't be that hard. But no one has gone to bed, or even to their grave, saying "I'm perfect. I can't improve. I've got this life thing down." Yet, most of us, keep trying. We don't give up. Something in us longs for perfection and we continue to pursue the dream- in our relationships, our character and for some of us, our golf game!

I think that's all a reflection of God. That drive, that longing, is put there by God. Why else would we be so resilient, so hopeful? What else explains the incredible come-backs that people have performed from Auschwitz to Lance Armstrong? Genetics? Survival of the species? No. I'm convinced that God is calling us back to himself through our desires. Ultimately, He is what we seek - the Perfection that we long for.

I believe what the Bible says, that one day we will meet God face to face - and then we will be satisfied. Then we will truly be at peace. But until then we don't have to bite our nails. We can know God now. The image is blurred and His voice is not always clear, but we aren't alone. He's with us. He speaks. And he brings fulfillment. As the apostle Paul said, God has given those who ask a downpayment of their future inheritance by sending his Spirit to live inside of them. It's not heaven. It's the appetizer for things to come.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

How Much of the Bible is Enough?

I've recently gotten a few comments back about my sermons not having enough scripture in them. I appreciate that. I love the Bible and I love a good sermon that helps me to understand it better. But some topics are hard to draw from any one Bible text. For example, my current series on "boundaries". There are some texts that show one or two aspects of boundaries but I can't think of any one text that teaches everything there is to know about boundaries. To cover all of the Bible necessary to make a good teaching would take months. I'm afraid I'd bore people to tears, and then it's not a good teaching!

So, as a speaker, I have a choice. I can spend my twenty five minutes surfing the Bible, taking a lot of time to tell one or two stories to make a few points, or I can spend my time making lots of points and make a few pertinent quotations from the Bible. I've chosen the latter. It may not satisfy the serious Bible student but it's really the only practical solution to my dilemma.

To satisfy people's need for more Bible verses, some preachers attach verses to their points in a forced way. I won't do that. That's not being intellectually honest with my listeners. The verse isn't being used to support the point. It's simply there to make people feel the sermon is more "biblical". But think about that. Does the volume of Bible quotations really make a sermon more biblical? Not at all. I've heard plenty of sermons, full of the Bible, that I think totally misrepresent God.

Read Paul's sermon in the book of Acts (17) to the Greeks. He didn't quote the Bible at all. He quoted their local poet. Yet Paul spoke truth that drew people to Jesus. There's a time to quote the Bible and there are times not to. I'm trying to find the right balance.

This summer we are going to do a study on the books of Psalms, Proverbs and Job. Hopefully that will satisfy those who are looking for more of the Bible.