Did you cringe at yesterday’s preaching on sex? I did. And we all should. Here are three reasons why it is okay to cringe at this preaching series:
1. It’s cage fight between the gospel and today’s culture of sensuality. The preaching yesterday made many people squirm on the inside because while we believe the gospel in our hearts, our bodies have a secret liking to the world’s culture of sensuality. I know it was not an easy topic to preach about. I understand Pastor Kix’s struggle to speak truthful words without offending our cultural sensibilities. Some words sounded a bit sleazy to my ears but I think more than the issue of word choices, the preaching was very unsettling because it brought to light the part of our lives that we would rather not surrender to the scrutiny of God’s Word. When the Bible exposes things that we secretly love to keep, it triggers our natural instinct to grab a cover and pretend we are fine.
But therein lies the beauty of it. As we all sat under the preaching of the Word, it felt like the Word washed over us, getting us drenched in the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit. We are all broken people. It’s not just those who have sexual sins in the past that need God’s grace but also those who are sexually unsoiled but are proud of their restraint. Virgins and promiscuous people, young and old, men and women, we all have the same fallenness that need redemption. Only Jesus can give us hope.
2. The gospel wounds and heals. It is often said that the preaching of the gospel should afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted. When the Bible talks about sexual idolatry, it is not meant to castigate us and leave us beaten. It always offers hope and a way out. This is where moralism and the gospel stand in sharp contrast.
Moralism will demand that you keep yourself pure without giving you the power to do it. It will just beat you and accuse you and cast you down. The gospel, on the other hand, demands holiness but it also gives you the power to be holy. That is what Jesus came to do; to remove our old malfunctioning hearts and replace them with new ones that love the Lord and pursue holiness; to give us the Holy Spirit to power us from the inside; and to infuse our lives with grace so that our obedience will now be motivated by love, not by fear and compulsion.
3. The hard teachings of the Bible separate the disciples from the casual followers of Jesus. They give us a sense that following Jesus is not a casual walk in the park but a life of absolute surrender to His will.
When Jesus wrapped up his teaching on the Bread of Life in John 6, many people walked away. He then asked his disciples a question that should be asked of everyone who calls himself Christian. “Do you want to go away as well (John 6:67)?” The sexual ethics of the Bible is a hard pill to swallow for our generation. With the current sexual controversies swirling around, the fault lines of our culture today are drawn around the issue of sex. It makes us take a hard look at ourselves and think why we really follow Christ in the first place.
This preaching series has a built-in cringe factor that many people would rather avoid, if only they could help it. But the Bible is unlike our popular bestseller that only talks about topics we want to talk about. The Bible spotlights things that are important to God even if they make us cringe. There is no other way to healing and restoration. We must be broken first before we can be made whole.
How did you react to the message yesterday? What’s the one thing you got out of it?