Murder And The Sunday Sermon



Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.

Your local six o’clock news.

If you can somehow manage to get through life without making an appearance on one of those shows, you’ve done alright for yourself. Your parents should be proud. Thursday evening, when I turned on my television, I saw two people from my church on one of those shows.

It reminded me of the importance of my job.

I live in a safe part of the world. A few weeks ago, some organization released a list of the safest towns in the state of Georgia. Mine was near the top of the list. Ours isn’t a violent community. There aren’t many serious crimes. No one gets murdered.

That all changed earlier this week.

The kid wanted to go to the store so that he could buy a pack of cigarettes. He asked his grandmother for a ride. When she said no he beat her to death with a baseball bat.

An 18-year-old kid, charged with beating his own grandmother to death. In our safe town.

News trucks from the Atlanta stations were here Thursday. Unless a tornado or an ice storm comes through, Atlanta news stations stay out of our town. There’s nothing to report. Nothing here can compete with the violence and corruption that has become a way of life 45 minutes up the road from our quiet and safe part of the world.

The two people from my church were just doing their job when I saw them on TV Thursday night. They both work in our legal system. There’s another man too. He didn’t make it on the news but he had to be among the first at the crime scene. All three people were just doing their jobs. Jobs they’ve been doing for a while. Jobs they do well. But still, when they sat in our sanctuary last Sunday, they didn’t know what the week held for them. They didn’t know that they would have to deal with an 18-year-old charged with murder. Not in our safe town.

When I saw them on the news, I hoped that they were okay. That they were prepared for coming face to face with total depravity like this. I knew that they would do their job well. I only hoped that I was doing mine well.

The people I preach to each week need more than life principles. They need more than an encouraging word to help them get through the week. They need to be reminded that sin has corrupted our world. They need to be pointed to the King who has conquered that corruption. I’m guessing that it can be tempting to question the goodness of God when you’re looking at a woman’s blood splattered on her wall.

I’ve been preaching though Esther. There’s a lot of bloodshed, corruption and depravity in that book. Words like God, Jesus and Holy Spirit are not mentioned in the entire book. But the presence of God is clearly seen on every page.

A lot like today.

It may be easy to question the presence of God at a crime scene or a court hearing. But just like in Esther’s day, Jesus is present (Matthew 1:23). He is good (Psalm 119:68). And he is in control (Colossians 1:15-19).

That’s one of the reasons why I take preaching so seriously. Each week, I stand before a group of people who are facing the unexpected. I don’t want them to go into the dark world we all live in with my life principles or emotional manipulation. They need something stronger.

And that’s why the preacher’s job is so important.

Each sermon and each counseling session should serve as a reminder to our people that, as we try to navigate our way through the shifting sands of this sin sick world, our “hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”

I can’t wait to preach this Sunday.