Sermon illustrations


Bringing the Human Race to Its Knees

In Cormac McCarthy’s modern classic, No Country for Old Men, sheriff Ed Tom Bell (played by Tommy Lee Jones in the Major Motion Picture) pontificates on this rising evil that has infiltrated his until recently relatively peaceful existence as a lawman. The rising tide of violence has been caused by drug wars crossing over the southern border into his quaint West Texas town. Bell begins to question whether or not he keep serving as a sheriff as the violence swells around him and his neighbors. His monologue, written in a west Texan vernacular, is filled with wisdom, with a recognition that the world he is a part of is not what he once knew. Where God and the devil play into all that is up for discussion.  And in the midst of this awful scene, he has this to say about just how destructive drugs are to the communities they impact:

I think if you were Satan and you were settin around tryin to think up somethin that would just bring the human race to its knees what you would probably come up with is narcotics. Maybe he did. I told that to somebody at breakfast the other mornin and they asked me if I believed in Satan. I said Well that aint the point. And they said I know but do you? I had to think about that. I guess as a boy I did. Come the middle years my belief I reckon had waned somewhat. Now I’m startin to lean back the other way. He explains a lot of things that otherwise dont have no explanation. Or not to me they dont.

Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men (Vintage International), Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Catching up to the Pain

I learned a long time ago that if I hustle fast enough, the emptiness will never catch up with me. First I outran it by traveling and dancing and drinking two-for-one whiskey sours at Calypso on State Street in Santa Barbara. Then I outran it by lining up writing deadlines like train tracks and clicking over them one by one. Then I outran it by running laps around my living room, picking up toys and folding blankets, as recently as yesterday.

You can make a drug—a way to anesthetize yourself—out of anything: working out, binge-watching TV, working, having sex, shopping, volunteering, cleaning, dieting. Any of those things can keep you from feeling pain for a while—that’s what drugs do. And, used like a drug, over time, shopping or TV or work or whatever will make you less and less able to connect to the things that matter, like your own heart and the people you love.

That’s another thing drugs do: they isolate you. Most of us have a handful of these drugs, and it’s terrifying to think of living without them. It is terrifying: wildly unprotected, vulnerable, staring our wounds right in the face. But this is where we grow, where we learn, where our lives actually begin to change.

Shauna Niequist, Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living, Zondervan.

A Life Changed by a Stolen Gideon Bible

Steve May tells the story of “Dee,” who grew up in east Tennessee in an affluent, but unchurched home. Dee’s time at college involved as much wild living as it did studying, and soon her life became a never ending search for a party.

One weekend, Dee and her friends rented some rooms at a local motel, and set about the usual activities involving drugs and alcohol. On this weekend, the group also devised a contest to see who could steal the most from the room. One of the things Dee stole was the Gideon Bible.

Since they all thought it was funny, Dee won the contest.

Several weeks later, Dee’s life began to fall apart. She discovered she was pregnant. Abortion seemed the only solution, and it was a solution she had used in the past. Her boyfriend left her, and Dee found herself all alone.

One night, in the midst of her fear and uncertainty, in the midst of her crisis, she picked up the Bible she had stolen and began to read.

She flipped the book open to 1 Samuel, and found the story of Hannah, who desperately wanted a child. It was the first time Dee had ever read the Bible, and the words seemed to have a life of their own. In a short time, as she read more of the Bible, and as she found Christians ready to help her, Dee accepted Christ. As the years went by, Dee grew deeper in her walk with Christ, and by the time her child was a teen-ager, both mother and daughter were telling their story to groups all around their community.

It was crisis that brought Dee to a point of searching for answers, and it was the Bible that took her to the only place where she’d find true wisdom. And immediately, that wisdom changed the way Dee lived.

Andy Cook

Not Addicted

Tallulah Bankhead (1903-1968) was a flamboyant actress, whom one critic called “more an act than an actress.” At the opening-night party for a play in which she was performing, she got into an argument with the writer Dashiell Hammett. Hammett criticized Bankhead for using drugs and seemingly being addicted to cocaine. Tallulah responded with indignance: “You don’t know what you’re talking about. I tell you cocaine isn’t habit-forming, and I know because I’ve been taking it for years.”

Stuart Strachan Jr., Source Material from Clifton Fadiman, Bartlett’s Book of Anecdotes.

Opioid Deaths vs. American War Casualties

American deaths in Vietnam War (10 years) – 58,209
In 2016 there were more than 64,000 lethal drug overdoses in the US

In the Vietnam War, Korean War and WWI, just under 229,000 American died
In the last 5 years, there have been more than 248,000 opioid overdose deaths in the USA

Source: CBS News 

Telling the Same Story

In The Case for Grace, Lee Strobel interviews former drug addict and current Las Vegas pastor Jud Wilhite on what it is like to become addicted to drugs:

“All addicts tell the same story,” Jud said to me. “When it starts out, you go to parties and the drugs make you feel good, like you’re freer and can communicate better. But in short order, you don’t even go to the party anymore, because you’re in a back room somewhere, doing the heaviest stuff you can find. You’re on the path to jail, death, or insanity — one of those three. Unless you get clean, it’s going to happen. And it didn’t take me long to find my way to that back room.”

Lee Strobel, The Case for Grace, Zondervan.

See also Illustrations on Addiction, Alcohol, Coffee/Caffeine, Drunkenness, Medicine, Mental Illness, Pain, Vice

Still Looking for inspiration?

Consider checking out our quotes page on Drugs. Don’t forget, sometimes a great quote is an illustration in itself!

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