A sermon illustration
It’s a verifiable fact that two out of every three sermon illustrations come from the speaker’s kids, and I think I now have my first really good one about Silas. Not being a pastor has never kept me from writing down sermon illustrations, just like having no musical ability has never and will never stop me from keeping track of good band names in Evernote.
A while back, I was cutting wood in my backyard in anticipation of bonfire season. Amber was gone doing something, so I had Silas (my 18 month old son if you don’t know him) out there with me. As I gathered the wood and started to cut it up, he sat down on the floor of our shed and watched me for about 15 minutes. Occasionally he wood make a “Hmm” or “Wow” sound if something happened that amazed his young mind, but for the most part he just sat in silence and watched me as I worked.
For anyone who doesn’t know him, I estimate that Silas is somewhere between 200%-500% more active than any other 18 month old to ever live. Admittedly, I’ve spent time with a very small number of 18 month olds, about 10 of them, but I’m choosing to believe he’s more active than all of the others. He doesn’t sit on the couch, or watch TV, or like being strapped in for lunch, or sitting on the floor playing quietly. He wants to be in every room of the house, and outside, and down the street, and in the car, all at the same time. Since he can’t do that, he settles for running continuously from one room to the next, every day, until forever, I assume. I’m not sure how Amber handles him alone everyday.
Anyway, now you know that Silas doesn’t like to sit still. His normal activity level made him sitting and just hanging out while I cut up the firewood both very surprising and very cool. In fact, I thought about what he did for most of the day after that. I couldn’t get over the fact that he just spent that time with me doing nothing, relaxing. And now we get to the sermon illustration.
Based on what you’ve read above, you might think this is an illustration about our need to slow down and relax. Well, you’d be wrong. The “slow down and relax” illustration has run it’s course. Plenty has been said about our over-filled schedules. This illustration says more about Jesus than us. Ever humble, I’ll be playing Jesus in this story.
As I was splitting wood, there was not an ounce of me that was annoyed with Silas for not helping me cut wood. How stupid would that be? He’s incapable of helping me with that task and would have gotten in the way and probably gotten hurt. He couldn’t help even if we both wanted him to. The fact that he was happy to spend that time with me just doing nothing was awesome. I was really impacted by him just hanging out with me. I was not disappointed that all he could offer was his presence. All I wanted was his presence. I was not expecting more of him.
Jesus wants the same thing from us in our relationship with him. Many Christians struggle with trying to earn Christ’s approval once they’ve been saved, but that’s completely unnecessary. Jesus wants the same thing from us that I wanted from Silas. Just hang out. Just get to know me. I think Jesus wants us to be so comfortable with him that we just sit around, not always saying much, just being around him.
I think when two people are really good friends, really close, they can be together and do nothing and be happy. Maybe even refreshed. No need to talk, though they can. No need to do anything exciting or extravagant, though that’s fun. Just being so familiar with one another that you can just exist and be perfectly content with that. I absolutely loved Silas hanging out with me while I worked, just because I love him. He has never accomplished one thing for me that I couldn’t have done for myself faster and better, so it’s not like he’s “earned” my love. I wasn’t asking a single thing from him, other than to just be there. I think God feels the same way about us. Just live with him and in him. When we desire to spend time with Jesus and get to know him, it puts a huge smile on his face.
Of course, as we grow closer to God, this inspires us to do really cool things that also make him smile. When we volunteer at a homeless shelter to show his love to other people, no one smiles bigger than God. But that’s a result of, not a prerequisite for, our relationship with him. God doesn’t need us to do those things, just like I didn’t need Silas to help me. Do you really think the God who created the earth and the sun and the moon and a billion billion other insanely huge celestial bodies really needs anything from us? I don’t think he does. I think he’s really happy when we do things for him, but he loves us exactly the same amount if we don’t. The closer we get to Jesus, the more he inspires us to act like him and do things that further his kingdom, but as we grow and as we get there, I think Jesus is ecstatic every time we just relax with him and exist in his presence.