Grace is a Contrast

I love to preach. It is what I was called to do.

I suppose it should not be a surprise it is a paradoxical calling. I hate it and I love it. I love it because there is no greater honor to study and pray and ponder and speak the word of God to the church. I hate it because speaking the word of God is painful to me.

This week someone wrinkled his brow and said, “Your preaching is so negative.”

20120708-234249.jpg I went through and listened to a number of sermons and watched a bunch of videos. I didn’t hear negativity.

Wendy reminded me that another person, who has heard hundreds of my sermons, said she had never heard such grace preached more clearly in her life.

Who is right? How do we sort it out? Is it possible for two people to hear the same preaching and one hear grace while the other hears doom and gloom?

My preaching is not all sanguine. It is not butterflies and rainbows. When I preach, I try to get to where the text really matters to those of us who live in the real world. Butterflies and rainbows, while real, are generally the adornments of a world filled with bugs and thunderstorms. I like to talk about the bugs and thunderstorms. I see more of them than I do butterflies and rainbows.

Grace is not the Disney dream of songbirds, butterflies and rainbows, grace is good and beautiful, but it is good and beautiful in the midst of a world filled with bugs and thunderstorms.

Grace is not beauty in and of itself. Grace is beauty in contrast.

Grace is shelter in a storm. Grace is light in the darkness. Grace is hope in despair. Grace is sight for the blind. Grace is life out of death. Grace is righteousness for sinners. Grace exists only in a world and to a people who desperately need it.

And for those who like to think of themselves as good, grace is a terrible reminder of a truth they prefer to ignore. That truth, is that we fail. We fail over and over. Grace says, “God loves us anyway.” We would prefer to shorten it and simply think, “God loves us.”

But for those of us who are all too aware of our feet of clay, we need to be reminded God loves us anyway. We look in the mirror and don’t see someone who would naturally draw the love of a Holy God. We feel the shame of our own nakedness.

I am someone who is painfully aware of my own brokenness. I need to hear someone say, “God is not blind–He sees you for who you really are, and He loves you anyway.”

I know more broken people than whole ones, and so I guess will keep speaking the Gospel I know. It is good news of wholeness to this broken man.

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5 Responses to Grace is a Contrast

  1. Tom Dodson says:

    I am a batch of negativity wrapped up in a sterile blanket. I didn’t intend for that too take place. It’s just happened. Tom

  2. vernon says:

    didn’t Jesus say something about coming to heal the sick? about those who are healthy do not need the physician?

  3. Carol Samples says:

    Derrick, when Bill and I have discussed your sermons in the past when he was attending church…he thought he was being attached, which you and I both know that was not true, but I told Bill if it was bothering him that bad, then he must have stuff within himself that needs to be worked on. Of course, he did not care for my answer. I believe that person thinking that you preach negativity has stuff to resolve within himself. Why do people want to kill the “messenger”? Sincerely, Carol

  4. charlene dodson says:

    Dear Derrick, How can I encourage you? I guess by telling you how my heart feels! I’m so sorry this happened to you and your family. You must be devastated, I would be, after all you have been thru with Wendy this past year, and then to have this happen when she is not out of the woods yet.They say the Caregiver suffers as much or more than the sick person., I feel sorry for my Tom in this role too. I want you to know we love you and your family and that our hearts hurt for you. I hope and pray you don’t give up the ministry though. God has blessed you with such a wonderful gift of insight into his scriptures. I have learned so much from you, things I had never thought of or heard of or been exposed to.May God continue to bless you. Brethren will always let us down at sometime or another, but God will never leave us or forsake us. If it wasn’t for His Grace and Mercy we wouldn’t have a chance. He loves us and hurts when we hurt, like I mentioned to you sunday, He even carry’s us when the load gets to heavy. He says come unto me all ye who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. I always tried to convince my son, that his decisions didn’t just affect him, but also his family and all the people that loved him. You have a lovely wife and three special daughters, that need your strenght,courage, faith and trust, thru this difficult time. I hope you will take some time and let the Lord carry you for awhile, so you can have some tme to heal, before you make your decision.You are such a gifted, talented minister, think of all the people who will miss out, if you give it up. Our hearts, love and prayers are with you and your family. Love your sister, charlene dodson

    • Derrick says:

      Thank you, Charlene. You and Tom have been a great encouragement to me. I am not sure what my future holds. We shall see.

      The cost of these things are high and higher than I we can imagine.

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