By Ronnie McBrayer
Get out of the house!
Last week we had a fire in our home. Our aged heat pump flashed out, blowing smoke throughout the house, tripping alarms and setting off smoke detectors. Thankfully, it turned out to be a minor inconvenience. But at first, we didn’t know this. We had smoke in the house and could not find the source. So I called 911 and explained our situation: “Everything looks okay now, but could you send someone just to take a look?” The dispatcher sent someone all right. In five minutes we had a dozen fire-fighters, six fire trucks, and a battalion chief standing in the front yard.
Everyone involved was consummately thorough, especially the dispatcher. She did not care that everything “looked okay.” Minor event or four-alarm fire, her instructions were direct and clear: “Get out of the house!” I protested several times stating that it was cold outside and we were safe. She continued to answer: “Get out of the house,” growing more forceful each time until finally I relented and did as I was told.
That dispatcher would make a wonderful preacher. See, the best sermons are not the ones that reinforce our comfort or our long-held beliefs, causing us to rest well in pews. The best sermons are those that cause us to get up and run from the sanctuary. The best sermons say directly and clearly: “Get out of the house!”
I cut my theological teeth in a tradition fixated with defending the Bible. We worked hard to protect the always-under-siege Scriptures. Thus, I heard much high oratory on the inspiration, infallibility, incorrigibility, and inerrancy of the Bible. This was an almost weekly subject. In short, I heard a whole lot about the Bible, but didn’t get much help in how to live the Bible.
But we need less information about the Bible coming from inside the church house, and need more real-world, life-giving ways to put the Bible into practice outside the church house. We need to practice some of the oldest words from the New Testament: “Don’t just listen to the Word. Do what it says.”
No, the proof of truth is not how often we use the correct theological buzzwords or how long we sit and listen inside our houses of worship. The proof of truth is the practice of God’s grace and burning love out in the communities around us. Get out of the house.
Ronnie McBrayer is the author of “Leaving Religion, Following Jesus.” He writes and speaks about life, faith, and Christ-centered spirituality. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.