Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sermon preview--The Third Commandment

Kevin Miller is a preacher and Vice President of Christianity Today International. In the days just after 9/11, he was flying from San Francisco to Chicago. Five minutes before takeoff from San Francisco, a gate agent came on the plane and said, "Get your bags and come with me.” Miller wound up sitting in the airport watching the flight take off without him, wondering what the problem was. Soon, four armed San Francisco policemen showed up and began grilling him. Suddenly it hit him. His friend had been ordered out of the security line and so he arrived on the plane much later than Miller had. When he got on the plane, Miller asked jokingly, "Why were you stopped? Was it your beady terrorist eyes? Explosives?" 11 stray words were the source of all this trouble. Meanwhile, the airline officials were talking to the FAA and the police, trying to decide what to do with him. Finally, an airline rep said, "You realize that you can't talk about these things. We're in a new day. Another passenger overheard you and refused to fly on the flight. The captain was told, and he made the decision to remove you from the flight." They agreed to let him take their next flight out to Chicago, but it didn’t take off until 11:30 that night, and arrived at 5:30 AM. The lead cop looked at him and said: "You win the prize for Idiot of the Day." In Kevin Miller’s words, “So now I'm sitting in San Francisco airport for 9 1/2 hours and losing an entire night's sleep…All because of a few stray words.”

This much is true; we are in a new day. In many ways, stray words are taken much more seriously than they used to be. Just ask any prominent person who has had to publicly apologize for some off-the-cuff remark. In many ways, people are beginning to pay much closer attention to the words they say. On the other hand, there is a new casualness when speaking about God. We have lost the holy reverence that the Old Testament refers to as the fear of God. You can hear it in our speech. And one symptom of that is the fact that we take the third commandment least seriously of the ten. This week’s sermon will be an experience for many of us similar to what Kevin Miller experienced in that airport. We will find out that words we have been using in a casual way—stray words—are taken very seriously by the One who judges our lives.

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