The tension was hanging heavy like a San Francisco fog. Not all were privy to it – just the pastor. Jim and Pam had come through the doors for the second time. It had been a couple weeks since their first visit. Having guests again was a welcome sight to all.
The pastor couldn’t help but wonder if his presentation of the gospel had been unpalatable the last time he preached to this couple. He wanted the churches core value of acceptance to be very much apparent. The last thing he desired was for this couple to feel uncomfortable.
Do they feel loved here? Do they feel accepted by the people?
Tucked away in his well-worn bible is a message that calls out sin. He had developed a thought that compares the gray areas of our current culture with the black and white commands of scripture. This sermon speaks to the wayward trends of society and the tragedies of sin. The message is more confrontation than comfort.
Hence the tension he feels. In a church full of believers, won’t it be obvious to Jim and Pam that this message is pointed in their direction? Why couldn’t they have come on a day when he was prepared to preach everybody happy?
Just two weeks down the road he is starting a series on Favor. This series would be perfect for this couple. It will deal with God’s desire to bless families, finances, and our faith. He starts mentally perusing through the different texts he will use in this series. Hoping that one of them leaps out and shouts amen. If that happens, he will just start the series early.
It doesn’t happen.
He is left with the message in his bible.
The palpable tension the pastor feels is like a living thing. He wants this couple to feel accepted. However, he has a responsibility to call out their sin. How do I express to them that I love them too much to let them leave like they came? The tension is building.
Jim and Pam are sitting quietly in their seats waiting for the preaching. That’s why they came. They decided to give God one last chance. Jim has a pornography addiction, and Pam is verbally abusive. They have other problems too.
Jim is a very outgoing guy with his own band of brothers. In his man cave he get’s all the enablement he needs. Most of his friends have the same addiction. They all write it off as being a guy thing. This is Jim’s usual excuse for continuing in sin.
Pam is a Facebook queen. She has the ability to network with thousands of friends that she has actually never had one meaningful conversation with. This is her outlet. Here she hurts Jim the most. She demeans him to thousands of people with one click of her mouse: and get’s all the support group therapy she needs with the random comments received. Most, if not all, think it’s ok to publicly flaunt her dirty laundry. She feels empowered when she passive aggressively assaults her husband. Jim doesn’t have her passwords, and she doesn’t have his.
Deep down they both know that the group of friends they have, aren’t helping their situation in the least. They are enabled and enabling. Jim and Pam seek out itching ears that will in turn tell them what they want to hear.
Lately they have been wondering what they need for change. It seems like what they want has been the catalyst for all their misery and shame. Jim has been lying awake at night, looking at the wrong pictures on his phone: and feeling shame.
Ever since the last service she attended, Pam has been distancing herself from Social Media. She also feels shame for how she has revealed in public what should be dealt with in private.
The pastor is thumbing through the bible in one last attempt to get new direction. Jim and Pam somberly look straight ahead. It’s not going to take much to get them in the altar today.
Just before the pastor gets his cue to take the stage, he remembers a high volume message he had preached years before. It was his go to message whenever he preached for other congregations. The locus of this message was the miracle momentum created by speaking faith. He always closed this message with people walking around the church seven times and then shouting at whatever obstacle was standing in their way. It replicated the Jericho walk and shout.
The thought of this message immediately dissolves the tension he feels. First of all, this couple will leave knowing he is a decent preacher. Secondly, Jim and Pam will be introduced to the faith filled energy of his church.
This might be a good thing. Once they have been around the church for a while, he can always preach the message on change. Jim and Pam will have already grown to love the church and won’t feel so condemned.
Jim’s fists are tightly closed as conviction is already seizing his heart. The presence of God he felt during the worship service felt good, but gripped his soul at the same time.
Pam is holding back tears. Her heart has been softened toward her husband in just the last couple of worship songs. She feels the presence of something she couldn’t describe in 140 characters or less.
Now, hand in hand, they are silently submitting to the idea that they need change.
Today they are hoping to hear from God.
The Pastor flashes a smile at the congregation and with exuberance invites everyone to turn in their bibles to Joshua 6.