fbpx

Sermon Illustrations on the status quo

Background

Calling into Question the Status Quo

All crises are judgments of history that call into question an existing state of affairs. They sift and sort the character and condition of a nation and its capacity to respond. The deeper the crisis, the more serious the sifting and the deeper the questions it raises.

At the very least, a crisis raises the question “What should we do?” Without that, it would not amount to a crisis. Deeper crises raise the deeper question “Where are we, and how did we get here?” Still deeper crises raise the question Churchill raised, “Who do other people think we are?”

…But the deepest crises of all are those that raise the question “Who do we think we are?” when doubt and uncertainty have entered our own thinking.

Taken from A Free People’s Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future by Os Guinness Copyright (c) 2013 by Os Guinness. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Challenging What We Know

We can “know” something to be true, and then find it is not true after all. I recall confidently asserting to a student that, of course, the name of the region Perea (to the east of the Dead Sea) appears in the Gospels. Despite what I knew to be true, it turns out I was wrong. With a bit of research I discovered that we get that name from other sources. I reported to the student my error.

Some people “knew” the earth was flat or that the sun revolves around the earth. It is very easy to assume something or to follow the received wisdom about the way things are, or about how something has always been done. Perhaps we accepted the word of authority figures—whether parents, teachers, politicians, or preachers—who told us the right way to think or to act. We did not question their word; we thought they were the experts. But then we run into something that calls that wisdom into question. We have to rethink things and investigate the issues thoroughly for ourselves. Ultimately, we may affirm, alter, or completely discard what we formerly accepted as true.

In his sermon [on the mount], Jesus challenges the way his Jewish disciples have been thinking about the kind of life that pleases God. They knew what the religious leaders were saying; but Jesus asserts that what they had heard was not true after all. As we listen in on his challenges, we may need to revise our own thinking about how well we are doing in our spiritual formation-being and doing the “righteousness” that allegiance to him requires. Grasping what he said to his followers, we can translate his principles into our own contexts and pursue this kind of life ourselves.

William W. Klein, Become What You Are: Spiritual Formation According to the Sermon on the Mount, 2006.

Defending Slavery as the Status Quo

I read that Thornton Stringfellow, pastor of the Stevensburg Baptist Church in Virginia, had made one of the most popular arguments for slavery when Baptists in the mid-nineteenth century were deciding to secede from the American Baptist fold. In a university archive, I found a copy of Stringfellow’s A Brief Examination of Scripture Testimony on the Institution of Slavery. I pored over it like a cancer patient might read her oncology report.

Stringfellow did what Christians have always done to justify injustice. He assumed that the status quo was normal. Abraham, the father of our faith, owned slaves. So did New Testament Christians. Jesus himself had not condemned the practice so it must have been acceptable. Stringfellow, like many before him read in the curse of Noah’s son.

Ham, a divine cause for the race- based subjugation that had become a matter of law in America…Stringfellow claimed with rhetorical flourish that slavery “has brought within the range of Gospel influence, millions of Ham’s descendants among ourselves, who, but for this institution, would have sunk down to eternal ruin; knowing not God, and strangers to the Gospel” He went on to argue that enslaved people would probably live better lives in America than they would have as free peasants in Africa. But the truth of his claim hardly mattered because he had, by his very logic, severed his gospel from the real, bodily conditions in which people live.

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion.

Analogies

Calling into Question the Status Quo

All crises are judgments of history that call into question an existing state of affairs. They sift and sort the character and condition of a nation and its capacity to respond. The deeper the crisis, the more serious the sifting and the deeper the questions it raises.

At the very least, a crisis raises the question “What should we do?” Without that, it would not amount to a crisis. Deeper crises raise the deeper question “Where are we, and how did we get here?” Still deeper crises raise the question Churchill raised, “Who do other people think we are?”

…But the deepest crises of all are those that raise the question “Who do we think we are?” when doubt and uncertainty have entered our own thinking.

Taken from A Free People’s Suicide: Sustainable Freedom and the American Future by Os Guinness Copyright (c) 2013 by Os Guinness. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

Humor

Our Mess

Status quo, you know, that is Latin for ‘the mess we’re in’.

Ronald Reagan, Speech, Washington, 16 March 1981

More Resources

Still Looking for Inspiration?

Related Themes

Click a topic below to explore more sermon illustrations! 

Change

Habits

Routines

Tradition

& Many More