Saturday, January 20, 2007

Mud Wrestling

My sermons are not pretty. The outlines are often fragmented and easily forgotten. The framework that is supposed to make clear the text is crooked and decrepit. The force of the argument is often lost in a preoccupation with a concept or an image.

As I spend my week in the text of Scripture, I feel like I’ve been mud wrestling. My insights are all smeared and gritty, and my notes are half-erased by the struggle and the search. By the time I enter the pulpit on Sunday, the page has surrendered to oblivion, and I am left to share my impressions and convictions.

You’ve got to admire the national preachers who can present their material so neat and tidy. They are a joy to listen to. They give you confidence that they have it all figured out, and they also give you assurance that, if you do these three things, you also will make significant progress. It’s why church can be fun, and Bible conferences can be entertaining.

I’m not buying it. The text isn’t that neat, and neither is the Christian life. The truth is, as we approach the text, we are a mess, and the text only exposes the mess for what it is. We seek to understand, to believe, to obey – and at the end of the day, there’s still mud in our eyes.

I could try and pretend. Forget it. Everyone knows that when you go to a mud wrestling event, it’s going to get ugly.

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