Everyone Has A Story
The Love Of Jesus Makes A Difference
2 Corinthians 5:14-17
Pastor Adam Mallett, Jr.
Adapted from sermon by
Pastor Gary DarDar, Jr.
Hearing Sidney Schexnayder’s testimony Sunday, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the way God uses people from so many different places, backgrounds, and cultures. I was also reminded of the fact that even though our church is full of people that came from different places, we all have the same problems. We all have struggles and strongholds and suffering that we desperately need to overcome! And we all have the same Savior who loves us, gave Himself for us, and desires to lift us up clothed in His righteousness rather than our rags! This week as we study, I think it is important that we remember the title of this sermon. The Love of Jesus Makes A Difference. Nothing else makes a difference! Nothing but the love of Jesus can change a person for good!
I couldn’t help but think of an excerpt from Pilgrim’s Progress as I studied my notes from Sunday. Pilgrim comes to a wall that is ablaze and notices that there is a person steadily dumping water on the visible portion of the wall. Despite all the water being poured onto this flaming wall, the fire still rages! Pilgrim then looks at the other side of the wall and realizes what is keeping the fire going. There is another man behind the wall, steadily pouring oil onto the wall! No matter how much water is poured onto the wall, the fire that engulfs the wall remains fueled and full. Now, you could say that the person trying to put out the fire is the good guy, or vice versa. Really, with no context it is impossible to say which man is the good guy! But, in Pilgrim’s Progress, the context we are given is that the fire represents the flame of the Holy Spirit in the life of a child of God. The Enemy is always trying his hardest to quench that fire inside of us! Yet, Jesus, our propitiation, desires to keep our fire fueled, blazing for our good and the glory of the Father! No other fuel can keep a fire lit beneath the barrage of Satan! No other fuel can sustain us, even in the deepest, darkest valley. We must remember who is for us, not against us! And we must remember to draw our strength and resources from God, alone.
Sidney walked through some very difficult times in his life, yet he stood before us to testify that God make a difference in his life. He tried programs created by the world, and, despite them being good programs that do help many people, they weren’t very much help for him. However, when he encountered God, everything changed! When Sidney allowed Christ to step past the threshold of his heart, darkness began to vanish! Maybe you are walking through a thick, overwhelming darkness. Maybe you are struggling with something that seems endless and unbeatable. I want you to know that only the love of Jesus can defeat that darkness in your life! Nothing else will do! I’d like to discuss some details about what God showed me during the testimony and sermon on Sunday morning, and I pray that you are impacted and grown by what God has to say today.
Sidney mentioned that he tried programs like AA, yet they were not entirely effective for him. While I believe that God can use something like AA to change a person’s life, I write in agreement with what Sidney spoke: there is a problem with solutions offered by the world. You see, the world has many solutions for many problems. You can find help and advice everywhere you look! Yet, much of the advice and help that we find in life will not accomplish what we are in need of! There are two reasons why we cannot look to the world for help, for solutions to our problems.
The first issue with looking to the world for solutions to our problems is that the world is blaming the wrong thing for our problems! You have an addiction, a mental issue, a bad habit, etc. The world tells you about everything other than what lies at the heart of all these things: the sinful nature of humanity! When we look to the world for solutions to our problems, we may get real solutions. We may get real help. But it will be help that does not affect our sin nature as humans. This, unfortunately, can be explained with medicine as an example. A doctor might prescribe someone medicine based on what they understand to be the medical issue of an individual, only to realize later that they misdiagnosed that patient! An entirely different medication would have been far more effective! Or, in the case of children, doctors often prescribe medicine for behavioral issues, when the real problem is that the child has never been disciplined appropriately! If you try to fix something that is not the root cause of your problems in life, you will continue to have problems!
The next issue with solutions offered by the world is that the world is broken! We are broken, looking for the fix. We look to a broken world, and we are surprised when we are left more broken! You ever try to put a bandaid on something that needed stitches? You ever tried to wipe with used toilet paper? You ever try to dry off after your shower with a wet towel? It doesn’t work! Yet, we have a habit of looking to the world for solutions to our problems, not understanding why things just keep getting worse. A broken world cannot fix a broken person. In fact, a broken world can only break a person even more. Jesus called this “the blind leading the blind.” And that is truly what it is!
There is no light in this world other than the light of Jesus shone by His people! This world is a deep darkness as a result of the work of the Enemy. So long as we are in this world, we are like that wall that I talked about earlier. We have an Enemy who is always working to quench the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives! However, we also have a Friend who is always working to keep us fueled and fully equipped to do the work that He has called us to do! But, it is up to us who we draw fuel from. Will we, in the depths of our sinfulness, drink deeply of the water being poured on us, or will we draw from the flow of oil being poured over our heads, oil of anointing for the work of the Kingdom? Water is good! Water is helpful! Yet, we often find ourselves living without context, accepting whatever is handed to us, so long as it seems helpful. I hear people give advice to other people all the time! I have learned that if you say something with conviction and the right tone of voice, anyone will believe anything you say! “The Lord helps those who help themselves.” Have you heard that one? It is not true! “God never gives us more than we can handle.” False! We must be careful about what help we accept. Has anyone ever offered to help you with something, but you knew that they would do more harm than good? We probably all have that friend or family member. That’s how the world is! But the world is not our friend. Jesus said that the person who is friends with the world is enemies with God. So why would we accept help from the enemy of our Heavenly Father?
If you are hurting, there is only one solution for you. There is only one thing that makes a difference in the life of a broken, sinful human being: the Love of our Savior! But, in order for us to truly move past our hurting and brokenness, we must first recognize the etiology of our struggles and strongholds. We must first be able to admit that we are sinners and that we need the love and restoration found only in God. Once we identify, admit, and accept that truth about ourselves, we can begin to experience the healing that our Father desires for us. Our Heavenly Father has a vision and a plan for our lives, and that vision is far better than any plan the world could ever dream for a person’s life! This healing is our desperately needed solution! It is permanent, thorough, and complete. It is not a gimcrack solution such as what the world offers to us at every turn! It is real, genuine, eternal. And it is good. Rather than painting over what is damaged and broken, our Savior desires to rebuild, setting us on a new foundation and growing us from there!
As Sidney shared, we will still have struggles. We will not be suddenly whisked out of any further struggle or pain, but we will united with the One who can sustain us no matter how much water is poured over our hearts! When we step away from that wall, the flame will die. When we try to find our own solutions, our resources will diminish. But when we stay in the presence of our Savior, we stay filled with all that we need to satisfy, heal, and cultivate us in the perfect way that our Father designed for us!