02.”THE SERMON LIVES THERE!”

A YOUNG COUPLE in the congregation told me recently that they had driven past my house a few nights earlier, when their little Stacey (by some childish misassociation of terms) suddenly exclaimed, “There’s the sermon’s house!” She didn’t know it, of course, but Stacey made a point we all would do well to remember.

Timothy was told to take heed to himself, as well as his doctrine (I Timothy 4:16). Otherwise his life could preach louder than his words. Arthur W. Pink put it like this. “Two things must never be separated — sound doctrine and holy deportment.” Preaching contains “two essential elements,” said Phillips Brooks, “truth and personality. It must have both.” I have always been just a little enchanted by the statement Oliver Goldsmith makes in his “Deserted Village” of the country parson: “Truth from his lips prevailed with double sway; and fools, who came to scoff, remained to pray.” Pray for your own preacher, that his life may illustrate and confirm the truth he preaches.

In a larger sense , the point Stacey made is true of every Christian. Paul told the believers at Corinth, “You are our letter… known and read by all men. You are a letter of Christ… written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God” (11 Corinthians 3:2-3, New American Standard Version). Considering the situation he could hardly have given a sterner rebuke, though he intended it as encouragement. Does his comparison frighten you? Andrew Hairston recently told a group of collegians “The Christian% life is the Lord’s audio-visual.” “God does not need more preachers but more practicers, not more apostles but more living epistles” — to borrow words from John D. Jess. Both men told the truth.

Yes, Stacey, the “sermon” does live at 944 South Geyer. Other sermons live in Your Own house. And others live in the houses of us all — from Akers and Ashberry all the way to Wyatt and Yost. By the way, what does YOUR “sermon” say?