February 10, 2008
"Leap Of Faith"
Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life."
Well here we are. I hope you've anticipated this sermon as much as I have. Somebody asked me why I do this? Why do I use the commercials and comment on them. That's a good question. I do it for a couple of reasons. First, it's kind of fun. But secondly and the main reason is that we live in a very multimedia, multi-sensory society. And the world's message is everywhere. It bombards us constantly. Commercials come as pop ups during you're favorite TV shows. They're on web sites, dvds, email, they've even started showing commercials in the movie theaters. They have a great influence on us.
They've lead this country into being the most self-centered nation in the world. iPhones, iPods, iGo, iTunes, iThis, iThat, I, I, I. That's really counter to what God teaches. Especially to what Jesus teaches about having a Servant heart and being the light of the world.
Third: while the message of the world is everywhere, so is God's Word. If you listen with the ears and heart of faith and look with the eyes of faith, you can hear and see God's Word moving in the world. The World needs us to "let our light shine" so we can point it out the presence of God for them. And that takes a Leap of Faith.
So, are you ready to see what I've come up with? I hope there weren't any wagers about which commercials I'm going to use.
A. Dwayne Williams & Charles Barker - Temptation
Jesus said we're called to live IN the world but not to be OF the world. He said we would be tempted to walk in the darkness. So, let's look at some of the consequences of living OF the world and in the darkness.
I remember somebody saying, "If you see devil hitchhiking don't stop to pick him up because pretty soon he'll be driving." I think the Dwayne Williams, Charles Barker T-Mobile ad illustrates that point and the effect of giving into temptation perfectly.
In James 1:14-16 we read, "One is tempted by one's own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved." In other words, you don't want to be in devil's "Fave Five."
B. NFL Hasselbeck
Over against that, I thought the Matt Hasselbeck Super Bowl ad was great. It spoke about humility.
That's so true to life. In my own faith walk I've found that those times when I've begun to think I'm somebody or begin to think I've arrived; that's when I'm the farthest away from God. That why I really like my GPS, because it tells me "You have arrived." But truly, that's the only time I can say that. Often times we're tempted to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. We can get haughty and arrogant. But that's not how we're called to live as Disciples of Jesus. Peter writes in 1 Peter 5:6 "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you in due time."
We always have to remember, "It not about us." It's about God.
C. Talking Stain
There was one commercial which I thought really spoke loudly about the faithfulness of our actions and our words.
You see, often times we're tempted to say one thing but actually do something else. But when we do that, that's all the world sees. They don't see God working in us. They don't see the good things we're doing. All they see is that stain of unChrist-like behavior. Matthew 5:37 "Let your 'Yes, be Yes' and your 'No, be No' ," and in Matthew 23:27-28 Jesus isn't very kind to the hypocrites of his day. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."
We are called to let our actions speak as loud or louder than our words.
A. FedEx Pigeons
Following up on that, there were two commercials which both talked about solutions. I want to compare what they had to say.
The FedEx commercial was about the absurdity of trying to use short cuts. They may work for a little while but usually they fail. What would have happened if Jesus had tried to take a short cut to the Throne of God and given into the Temptations. The FedEx commercial reminds us that some times what seems to be a good idea, isn't.
The FedEx commercial reminded me of one of Jesus' parables found Matthew 7:24-27 "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.
And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell--and great was its fall!"
Taking short cuts, in life and work and relationships, and especially in our spiritual lives is akin to building a house on sand. On the other hand.
B. Budweiser Hank - Hitch Team
I want you to know that just because I'm using the commercial, doesn't mean I endorse the product. But the message of the commercial is really quite clear. With hard work, the right motivation and someone who believes in you, you CAN fulfill your dreams. You CAN become all you've created to be. I can affirm that, especially if that someone is Jesus.
Jesus said, "The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted." Matthew 23:11-12 (NRSV)
The portrayal of the Clydesdale dog exhibited the whole idea of servanthood and the whole idea of hard work.
A. NFL Oboe player
To be honest, this next clip really touched me. It made me think of the Disciple Matthew the tax collector. He was so far outside the religious community that he had no clue what kind of relationship God wanted with him. And then Jesus walked into his life and everything changed. Matthew hadn't even known what to dream about until Jesus called him to be apart of God's great plan.
The Good News is that there is no telling what God can & will do for, with and through you if put life in God's hands. Look at Matthew, look at Zaccheus, look at Peter, James, John and all the others. When Jesus called them into ministry with Him, he called them into this marvelous adventure of faith that we all share.
B. GMC Hybrid Never Say Never
I think that possibly the best message of all was the GM Hybrid commercial. Why? Because it talks about the struggle we face everyday. We struggle with our faith and what God is calling us to do. We struggle with our place in the Kingdom.
In the midst of this adventure of faith, there are going to be questions. We're going to ask "Why." We going to ask if it's worth it. We're going to have problems. But we're called to Persevere. In Philippians 3:12-14 (NRSV)
"Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus."
A. Toyota Corolla - Badger
This next commercial shows us how trying and problem filled life can be, even when we're living the life of faith and trying to be more like Christ.
Luckily for us, we probably won't ever be locked in a car with a badger threatening to eat our face. But, we all know there are going to be problems in life. Jesus even said so. In John 16:33 (NIV) Jesus said, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
B. Darrel Jeter
Not only has Jesus overcome the world, but He also promised us a companion, the Counselor or Advocate who would go with us. Do you remember the very last thing Jesus told the Disciples as recorded in Matthew 28:20 "Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
The Darrel Jeter commercial for GatorAde reminded me of that.
I loved the question, "Do you think that field follows him everywhere?" For us the answer is "Yes." In John 14:16-17, Jesus tells the Disciples, "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth." And in Galatians 5:25 Paul writes, "If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit."
Jesus made arrangements for us. We are not alone. We are strengthened every day through the power and presence of God's Holy Spirit.
And that helps us change how we see everything. For some people it's a real Leap of Faith. And yet, if we look with eyes of faith, listen with the ears and heart of faith, we WILL see God in the ordinary aspects of every day life. Like in this commercial
I love that commercial. It is so totally deaf culture. It is a joke they tell amongst themselves. In the last church I served we had a small deaf community. For at least the last two years, I preached every Sunday morning with an interpreter. It was an awesome experience to get to know something about that culture and to get to know how to communicate a little with them.
Our God is an awesome God who is present everywhere, especially in those places we least expect to find God. Who would have thought that the Super Bowl and Pepsi would do something so absolutely groundbreaking? It reached a group of people who have never been reached before. God's hand had to be in it.
And our challenge as Christians is to see God in all those places we least expect to find Him, and then follow Him there so we can do our part in spreading the light. And it doesn't take much. All we have to do is show up and let God's light shine through us. God will do the rest.
Our challenge is to take the Leap of Faith.
Barclay, William: Daily Study Bible of the New Testament (WordSearch Bible Software Version)
Homiletics, (Communications Resources, Inc., Canton, OH)
Lectionary Homiletics, (Lectionary Homiletics, Inc. Midlothian, VA)
Dynamic Preaching, (Seven Worlds Publishing, Knoxville, TN)
The Clergy Journal, (Logos Productions, Inc., Inver Grove Heights, MN)
Preaching Magazine (Preaching Resources, Jackson, TN)
Circuit Rider, (The United Methodist Publishing House, Nashville, TN)
The Interpreter's Bible, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1953)
The New Interpreter's Bible, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1995)
Lights, Camera...Faith by Peter Malone with Rose Pacatte (Daughters of St. Paul, 2002)
Praying the Movies by Edward McNulty, (Geneva Press, Lousville, KY, 2001)
Movie Clips for Kids (Group Publishing, Inc., Loveland, CO, 2002)
Bore No More, Vols 1 & 2 (Group Publishing, Inc., Loveland, CO, 1995 & 1999)
Group's Blockbuster Movie Illustrations, Vols 1 & 2 (Group Publishing, Inc., Loveland, CO, 2001 & 2003)
Movie Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, by Craig Brain Larson and Andrew Zahn(Zondervan Publishing, Inc., Grand Rapids, MI, 2003)
Videos That Teach: Vols 1-3 by Doug Fields & Eddie James (Zondervan Publishing, Inc., Grand Rapids, MI, 1999, 2002, 2004)
SermonWriter by Dick Donovan (Copyright, Richard Niell Donovan, 2000
The Sermon Mall
Deacon Sil's Homiletic Resources
Richard Fairchild Lectionary Resources
Ministry and Media
Internet Movie Database
Preaching.com's Movie Ministry
The Text This Week Movie Theme Index
The Source For Youth Ministry Movie Clips