I recently heard a sermon where the preacher was laboring to convince the large crowd that God loved them. Now, I’m all for reminding people of the love of God, but given our cultural context this particular sermon struck me as misguided.
As I survey the contemporary evangelical landscape, I have a hard time believing many people today question whether or not God loves them. So the pleading with the congregation to “accept the fact that God loves you” seemed unnecessary. We all too easily accept that God loves us — in fact, we assume it.
This may explain why certain Scripture texts ring hollow in our twenty-first century ears. Consider Mark 2:17: “And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.'” Jesus considers it a matter of first importance that we understand who it is that He came to call. And it’s not healthy people.
One of the most hideous things about sin is its deceptive power to convince us that we’re not sinners. We actually think we’re morally and spiritually healthy.
Speaking for myself, I need sermons that remind me not only of God’s love but also of the hard fact that I am a sinner — that apart from Christ I am unrighteous and deserve not God’s love, but His wrath. With pride swelling and self sufficiency growing, I need to be reminded of who Jesus came to call. In other words, I need to remember from whence I’ve come. And not for mere doctrinal correctness, but so that the love of God lands on me with all the wonder that it should.
Love so amazing so divine demands my soul, my life, my all. -Isaac Watts, ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’ (1707)