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Sermon illustrations

Existence

Spiritual Formation Essential to Human Existence

In their excellent book Invitation to a Journey, M. Robert Mulholland and Ruth Haley Barton describe foundation of life as being spiritual in nature. This means we are constantly be “formed” spiritually, whether for good or evil:

We fail to realize that the process of spiritual shaping is a primal reality of human existence. Everyone is in a process of spiritual formation! Every thought we hold, every decision we make, every action we take, every emotion we allow to shape our behavior, every response we make to the world around us, every relationship we enter into, every reaction we have toward the things that surround us and impinge upon our lives—all of these things, little by little, are shaping us into some kind of being. We are being shaped into either the wholeness of the image of Christ or a horribly destructive caricature of that image, destructive not only to ourselves but also to others, for we inflict our brokenness upon them.

This wholeness or destructiveness radically conditions our relationship with God, ourselves and others, as well as our involvement in the dehumanizing structures and dynamics of the broken world around us. We become either agents of God’s healing and liberating grace, or carriers of the sickness of the world. The direction of our spiritual growth infuses all we do with intimations of either life or death.

Taken from: Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation by M. Robert Mulholland and Ruth Haley Barton. Copyright (c) 2016 by M. Robert Mulholland and Ruth Haley Barton. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

What is Life for?

Take the great American writer Ernest Hemingway for example. Born in 1899, he was the epitome of the twentieth-century man. At age 25 he sipped champagne in Paris, and later had well-publicized game hunts in Africa and hunted grizzly bears in America’s northwest. At the age of sixty-one, after having it all – wine, women, song, a distinguished literary career, Sunday afternoon bullfights in Spain – Hemingway chose to end his life, leaving a note saying, “Life is one [expletive] thing after another”

Gary D. Preston, “Our Endless Pursuit of Pleasure,”  Discipleship Journal, Nov/Dec 1983.

What is the Meaning of Life?

Recently I was watching a children’s television show on YouTube with my kids, when the host asked, “What is the meaning of Life?” His response was typical: “I don’t know,” but what he said next made me laugh: “I don’t know, but I could really go for a smoothie right now!” It’s funny to think about, but isn’t that how many of us respond to the big questions of life? I don’t have the answer but a smoothie sure sounds good right about now!

We end up numbing ourselves with immediate pleasures when we really need to do is search for the truth. We mask our deep longings for meaning in different ways, sometimes with the classic drugs of our society, alcohol, opiates, food, prescription pain killers, or we do it with “good things” that become ends in themselves: our careers, our families, our busyness. As Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living”…So when the deep, foundational questions of our existence bubble up to the surface, may we look first to Christ, not a smoothie.

Stuart Strachan Jr.

Who are we?

Who, then, are we, we prideful late-twentieth-century creatures? Lord knows, we no longer think of ourselves as belonging to anyone or anything. We do not belong – we own; we possess. And that, to say the least, is not the same thing. We plunge into self-aggrandizement convinced that the dazzling success of our projects will prove definitely who we are. But this fails to satisfy. Our triumphs ring hollow. Our victories so often turn to ashes in our mouths. But never mind. Tomorrow we will run faster, climb higher, and one fine morning…

Jean Bethke Elshtain, Who Are We? Critical Reflections and Hopeful Possibilities, Eerdmans Publishing.

See also illustrations on God’s Existence, Humanity, Life

Still Looking for inspiration?

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

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