by Rod D. Martin
October 13, 2013

I’m in church, listening to the testimony of a woman who has lived a life of brokenness and bad choices, beginning with an abortion at 18. This morning, having received Christ, she is being baptized: joyful, crying, and openly confessing the sins of which she has been forever and freely forgiven. It is moving, in the way that only redemption can be.

The most striking part of her testimony, to me at least, is this: though she knew all along that she was doing wrong, what convicted her heart and finally “put it over the top” was one sermon by our pastor, not on platitudes for “better living” (he doesn’t do that) or the pet theological topic of the day, but on sin: specifically the sin of abortion. Not in general, but with specificity, toward those actually present in the room. He addressed sin head on, and with it, he preached the forgiveness, mercy, redemption and joy of our Savior.

We’re always told the church should be “relevant.” And in this respect we should be: we should be relevant by addressing the culture’s — and individual people’s, especially our own — brokenness and sin directly; not in a scolding way but with a message of hope and redemption. For this is Christ’s ministry: to heal what is broken, and to remake it better than it began. Everyone is broken, and addressing that with His grace is everything. And we have just seen this woman’s heart made new.

A bit of an aside, but perhaps not so much: our church is now locking its side door, I’m told “for security”. That’s wise: there is right now a violent global war on Christians, and our government is silent at best, abetting it at worst.

Perhaps if our preachers had not shoved their heads so deeply into the sand for so very long on these “political” sorts of things, there would be many fewer dead saints, and many fewer widows and orphans, both abroad and at home. There is a lot of blood on our pulpits, which seek “relevance” through pandering, but flee it on matters of life, and of death.

Be that as it may, this is clear: no one comes to a church today unless they’re seeking something. A sermon on what too often passes for “relevance” would not have been relevant to this woman’s need. And she would still be lost.

For the pastors not yet ready for the advanced course, please at least master that.