Chappy’s corner “Are you talking about me?”

Pastor Jim was working on his sermon and as he did he thought of Fred, a member of the church. As he worked on the sermon the more he thought Fred needed to hear what he was going to preach.  But as the weekend approached a blizzard descended on the small community and by Sunday morning over four feet of snow laid on the ground. No one was going anywhere, but the Pastor Jim being the faithful man he was, walked over to the church, shoveled the sidewalk, opened the church doors went inside and waited.  No one came by 9:15 so he was ready to close the place up when suddenly the door opened and in walked Fred.   Fred asked the preacher if they would still have church with only the two of them, but the Pastor thought if there is anyone who needs to hear this message it is Fred, so he agreed.  They sang a song, said a prayer, and then the pastor preached the sermon he had prepared.  Afterwards the pastor stood by the door as Fred greeted him with these words, “Pastor, I have been coming to this church for twenty years and I can honestly say, that today’s sermon was the best sermon I have ever heard preached in all those years.  It’s just too bad that the people who needed to hear it weren’t here today.”


I’m sure many folks who have heard my sermons have thought the same thing.  He’s preaching about the other guy, but not about me.  The truth is “I am the other guy”.   A good preacher always starts by preaching to himself but in the process I’m also talking about all those other guys and gals out there. 


A popular hymn goes like this “Chief of sinners though I be, I’m not as bad as the guy sitting next to me.” We may chuckle at those words, but they reflect the attitude many folks have. The real words to that song are “Chief of sinners thought I be, Jesus blood was shed for me.”  The song is in reference to the apostle St. Paul who refers to himself as the chief of sinners, but by God’s grace has been redeemed through Jesus suffering, death and resurrection.  Through God’s grace Paul was made a member of God’s kingdom and yet Paul recognized himself as one who least deserved it.  The truth is no one deserves it, that’s why it is called grace, which literally means “undeserved”.  We don’t deserve anything from God most of all to be saved from our sins, for we have sinned constantly.  But God is gracious and He gives us all we need including giving His son to be the sacrifice for our sins so that those who trust in Christ can have a life with God forever. 


Now what’s true about preaching is also true about other areas in life.  When company commanders or 1st Sergeants expect their Soldiers to do their work well, those same leaders should be examples to each Soldier in their command of what it means to do your job well.  When employers demand their workers do a good job, hopefully those same leaders are demonstrating that work ethic to their employees.  When parents tell their kids not to do something, hopefully those parents are not doing it themselves.  A Dad, who tells his children to watch their language, hopefully is watching what he says when he is angry.  Parents, who fight with their spouses and call them ugly names, shouldn’t be surprised to see their children fighting with others and calling other children names.  The truth is we are all guilty of not being the best we should be, but that is no excuse for us not trying to be a better parent, a better spouse, a better person. 


So if you wander in on a Sunday and hear a sermon and wonder who the preacher is talking about take a good look in the mirror because the chances are the sermon is for you and for me, and also for the other guy too!  That’s just my thoughts from this SE corner of South Dakota!


CH (COL) David Gunderson

State Chaplain for SDARNG