One of the preachers I heard speak when I was a boy used to say something like, “I know I am preaching to the choir.” At first, I had no idea what he meant, but over time I learned that he was saying something we already believed and with which we agreed.
Throughout my ministry, I have tried to avoid sermons that were just preaching to the choir. I wanted to say things that challenged our thinking or forced us to question our assumptions. Occasionally, despite my best efforts, I end up doing exactly what I have been trying to avoid. Last Sunday was one of those times.
Let me give you the whole story, so you understand what happened. I am in a series of sermons from the gospel according to Luke. The second sermon in the series focused on the calling of one of Jesus twelve disciples named Levi. My goal was to explain the text while trying to invite people who feel like outsiders to follow Jesus. Well, the sermon was prepped and ready when we had to cancel worship on account of ice. I held onto the message and planned on preaching it the following Sunday. Little did I know that the next week we would also have snow and ice. We decided to meet, knowing that many people would not be able to attend. Finally, when I stood up to preach, I looked out at about a hundred people who I knew was mostly committed Christians. That was not entirely unexpected, only a person with a strong commitment to Jesus would get out to worship on such a lousy day.
There I stood with one thought running through my mind, “Today I am just preaching to the choir.” These people already know and believe everything I am going to say. My next thought was to change or adjust everything at the moment to make it more challenging to those in attendance. I did add and adapt a little of the information, but the basic message remained the same.
After I was done preaching several people commented that the sermon was good, inspiring, and enjoyable. At the precise moment, God spoke into my soul and reminded me that we all need to hear about the call of Christ to sinners over and over. The followers of Jesus must be continually reminded of their sins and the grace found in him. Even the choir should hear about the mercy and compassion found in Jesus repeatedly.
Perhaps today you would call yourself a believer who is trying to follow Jesus, and you need to be reminded of grace. You need to hear that Jesus loves you in spite of what you have done. These words that are so familiar to you can still touch your soul in the place you most need it. Sometimes the message we need to hear the most is the one with which we already agree and have merely forgotten.