Effete Awake and Alert to Brusque Sermon
Effete was wide awake now and completely alert. In truth, she’d half-slept through Fen’s sermon; she’d heard it before so many times she could practically preach it herself. Oh, the scripture reading would change, and some of the illustrations would change, but basically it was the same through and through. But now the Reverend Grim Brusque had practically thrown a hand grenade, spiritually speaking, into the Rally for Righteousness, and Effete was all ears … and heart, too.
“What does it mean to ‘do justice?’ Very simply, it means to do rightly, to act fairly in life, in all situations; to be even-handed in your dealing and innocent; that is, free of guilt or, more specifically, free of injustice; to be free of unfairness, sinful bias and wicked discrimination. Discrimination, of course, is not always wrong; in fact, it’s a necessary to living a good life, but there is such a thing as wicked discrimination, amen?” Brother Grim paused but not for long.
“Violence, oppression, deceitfulness, dishonest business practices and so much more were widespread and out of control throughout Judah when Micah prophesied. We know this because the prophet says in chapter three, ‘Hear this, you heads of the house of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel, who abhor justice and pervert all equity, who build Zion with blood and Jerusalem with wrong.’”
“Later on in the sixth chapter the Lord cries out against ‘treasures of wickedness … wicked scales,’ and ‘dishonest weights.’ He points to ‘rich men … full of violence.’ The Lord through his prophet condemns their arrogant pride and idolatry… You see, they have not done justice, not at all, and they have not loved and exercised mercy and kindness, and they have not walked faithfully with God in humility.”
“And all of this goes together, by the way. God is never random or haphazard about how he says something or puts things together, amen? And so if he puts all this together we have to realize, then, that we really cannot ‘do justice’ without also loving and exercising mercy and kindness, and walking with the Lord in a genuine spirit of humility. By the way, this doesn’t just mean being humble before God. You can’t be humble with God but arrogant with everybody else!”
“So having said this, then what does it mean to ‘love mercy?’ Well, this word can also be translated as ‘kindness, loyalty’ and ‘love.’ This one word in Hebrew wraps up all of these meanings, so really we’re talking about loving loyal, or steadfast, love and kindness, and being merciful. We’re talking about the kind of merciful, loyal love our Lord Jesus told us to have when he said, ‘Love one another.’ This is the kind of merciful, steadfast love Jesus has for us and for all people, amen? ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,’ amen?”
“So what have we got so far? Well, here it is: The Lord God is calling his people – that includes you and me – to a life lived rightly, honestly, fair-mindedly and even-handedly – that is, justly – in all situations, in all our relationships, and all in genuine, authentic love and merciful kindness. And to this he adds the important and necessary quality of humility. Humility… It’s a word I’ve used many times in many sermons over the years … but now I’m having to wonder how many times I’ve actually used it in my life. God have mercy and forgive me.”
He paused, looked down for a moment, then raised his head again and made eye contact. “What does it mean? Do you know what it means, particularly in the Old Testament? I don’t know, but you might be surprised. I’m not giving you a kind of bookish definition here, but it meant to lose … to lose wealth, power, prestige or whatever to the point where you’re dependent. You know, you’re humbled, or another way of putting it, to a point where you are, in a very real sense, humiliated. Now that doesn’t sound nice, but what is God really saying here?”
“It’s really pretty simple: He’s telling his people to throw off material wealth, power, prestige, special privilege and favor and whatever else and – if I can jump now into the New Testament to borrow some imagery – to become like little children, like sheep or lambs, really … to become dependent upon him, trusting him every day, in all things. Now I know you know that, but you know what else occurred to me?” Reverend Brusque looked around the auditorium like he almost expected an answer.
“He also calls us to humble ourselves with each other, as I’ve said already … but that means in a very real sense that we allow ourselves to be dependent on one another, or “interdependent” is a word we can use. And isn’t this really what the apostle Paul meant when he said we’re all members of the body of Christ ‘and individually members one of another?’ Isn’t this what we’re taught, that like members of the same one body we naturally depend on each other? Well now … it takes some real humility to admit that, doesn’t it? It’s not easy for me to say, ‘I need you.’”
“And here is where I really broke down this morning as I was studying this scripture, thinking about it and praying. I’ve often prayed, ‘Lord, I need you and we need you,’ but how many times have I looked at the folks in my congregation and said, ‘I love you … and I care about you and, more than that, brothers and sisters, I really need you, and I thank God for you.’ Not just for a building project; not just for your tithes and offerings so I can continue drawing a salary; not to serve on a committee… No, my heart, my life is in need of you… You see, that takes humility.”
“But even more importantly, I had to ask myself how often I’ve looked at my wife and my children and grandchildren and said, ‘You know, I really love you… You’re special, an important part of my life… You’re unique; in fact, you’re extraordinary … an extraordinary creation of God, with a unique and powerful purpose in life…” At this point the Reverend Brusque was visibly moved and had to stop to regain some composure. “You’re a blessing to me … and to so many others, and I thank God for you!”
“No, I haven’t shed innocent blood.” He issued a short laugh. “Shoot! I haven’t shed any blood. And I haven’t been dishonest in my business dealings… In fact, I don’t think I’ve been dishonest at all, strictly speaking … but Lord God please forgive me if I have. But the question I’ve had to ask myself is, have I always been fair … even-handed? Have I always ‘done justly’ in my relationships with people? Because that’s what we’re talking about here.”
“More importantly, though, have I lived out my life in genuine, authentic love and merciful kindness? Have you? Are you?” He let the question sink in and then asked, “Have I lived in a spirit of genuine humility? In other words, have I walked humbly with my God… Have I walked humbly with my family, friends, my church? Have I walked humbly in the world around me…? For me, at least, this is where it begins. I realize now that if I am truly humble, the way God calls me to be humble, then naturally I will be fair-minded, kind, loving, gracious and merciful.”
“And brothers and sisters, all of this … and I mean all of this – this kind of lived-out life – is absolutely necessary in obeying what our Lord Jesus commands in Matthew 5.16 because, you see, this is the soil, you might say, out from which our good works grow and bring glory to God.” He grabbed the sides of the glass pulpit again and seemed to ponder for a moment. “We simply cannot show good, God-glorifying works without living this kind of life… It all hangs together. In fact, I know now that living this kind of life is actually part of those good works.”
Now Grim Brusque faltered. Effete even thought he might not be able to go on, but somehow he managed. “Brothers and sisters … more than anything I’d like to tell you I’ve lived this life … that I’ve done justly, loved mercy, and walked humbly … but I cannot… And I’m not ready – God forgive me – I’m not ready to face Jesus and answer for my life and ministry … the life and ministry he’s given me… But I am ready to change… I am ready to be humble, fair-minded, kind, loving, gracious and merciful… to live a life that’s truly God-honoring.”
“Anything less in my life is … is simply not Christian … not of the Lord. Anything less in our lives, as individuals, as churches, is simply not Christian… And since this event is the Rally to Righteousness, let me say specifically, anything less is not righteous. So a ‘rally to righteousness’ is, at the very least, a rally to genuine humility, fair-mindedness, loving-kindness and mercy … all to the glory of God. And now you really should say, ‘Amen!’” And a few voices did, Effete’s being one of them.
For her it was all a breathe of fresh air, almost like a heavenly wind had swept through the auditorium. It also brought back vividly her conversation with Joy Brighterday and everything she’d said, and suddenly Effete felt like she was being released from some sort of prison. Love, kindness, gentleness and understanding … humility, patience, fairness… Of course. It sounded right. It felt right. It reminded her of her daddy, Kinly Mann. It felt so much like she felt in the arms of Joy – Joy, who reminded her of a Jesus somehow left behind long ago…
Had he now returned?
Written by noblethemes
January 18, 2013 at 6:38 PM
Tagged with Dispensationalism, Effete Sloughheart, End of the World, End Times, Eschatology, Fen Sloughheart, Fundamentalism, Joy Brighterday, Legalism, Life in Christ, Life Transformation, Recovering Fundamentalist, Sloughheart
Subscribe to comments with RSS.