Will We Cross the Threshold?
In 1973, a paroled convict attempted to rob a bank in Stockholm Sweden, and ended up taking four hostages. He kept them in a vault for six days as he tried to negotiate a way out of the situation. When the hostages were released, something strange happened.
Instead of cooperating with the law enforcement team that was seeking to build a case against the bank robber, the former hostages refused. In fact, they started raising money for the defense of their former captor.
Instead of harboring anger or even fostering a healthy sense of injustice at their mistreatment, these four people instead aligned their affections with their former captor. They identified with his suffering more than their own. While it was their captor’s crime that plunged them into their suffering, they saw their captor’s efforts to provide for them and protect them in their captivity as signs of love. And they responded in love.
This is a rare, but real psychological condition now commonly called Stockholm Syndrome.
In a very real sense, we’ve all experienced this psychological malady. As we are going to see on Sunday, our sin is a deceptive prison warden that seeks to keep us locked away in slavery to death. Sin promises us comfort, security, significance, and the rest that comes from pleasure, but it habitually breaks all of its promises to keep us in prisons of disappointment. It promises life, but it only delivers death.
But, in an ironic twist, we often find it easier to trust our sin over our savior. We look to the quick comfort of deception over the unsettling strength that comes from God’s true love. And so we keep heading back to our cells.
Sin promises that our job will give us genuine freedom and significance, while our overworking only drains us of joy and increases our anxiety.
Sin promises that our political platform will usher in a new era of prosperity and security, while our politicians do little more than enflame our fear and disappoint our hopes.
Sin promises that our illicit relationship (with that person at the office or the digital images on the computer) will make us feel loved and valued, while we end up destroying all the true relationships that feed our deep needs for love, chasing the illusions of quick and cheap intimacy.
Sin promises that our success will protect us from ever feeling shame again, while every heaped success only seems to expose our nagging sense of inadequacy and every failure feels like the loss of our very souls.
Sin promises that if we just worry enough and control ourselves and others enough, we’ll be able to protect ourselves and those we love from the unexpected, while we end up feeling even more exposed and anxious in all our attempts to find rest in control.
Sin is our prison master. He lies and never delivers on his promises. But we love his lies and fear what life would be like without his presence. We fear the true freedom of resting completely in God for our deepest needs to be met. We fear the wide open spaces of grace and long for the comforting confines of our old resentments, fears, lusts, pride, and self-pity.
It’s a dingy little cell, but it feels like home.
Sunday, we’re going to listen to God’s word call us over the threshold we so fear to cross, from slavery to freedom.
I hope you’ll join us as we continue to explore the unexpected, unsettling, and (if we are honest) at times terrifying invitation of grace.
Let’s rise up in the courage of faith to set aside the habits of our old selves and, together in community, step into the beauty of God’s love to start exploring the beautiful adventure of love that is ahead of us.
He is risen.
He is risen, indeed!
Trailhead Kids Launching June 6 (Still Looking for Some More Volunteers)
Andrea Hoang continues to move forward preparing to relaunch Trailhead Kids on Sunday, June 6! It’s fun to watch – she and her team are incredibly excited about seeing our church engage the gospel with our littles in person on Sundays again! We have around 40 people who have already volunteered to serve on the Trailhead Kids team – but we need another 20 volunteers to create a healthy rotation!
If you’d like to learn more or have any questions, please feel free to contact Andrea at email@example.com!
Media Team Training (A Great Time to Jump In!)
On Saturday afternoon on May 22nd from 1-3pm, the media team will be conducting a training on its new software (ProPresenter 7).
The media team is a tight community of people dedicated to making sure our slides are organized and presented well on Sundays. These guys equip the leaders on stage to lead the church into gospel transformation by providing the media support necessary for engagement.
If you are looking for an impactful way to serve (without being in front of a ton of people), this team would be a great fit. To find out more about serving on the media team or to attend the media training event, feel free to contact Lori at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connect with Us!
Text List: If you haven’t yet, please text Yeah Buddy to 618-266-3210 to get on our text list – this will allow us to connect with you quickly in case of urgency as well as send you weekly reminders and encouragements.
Prayer and Needs Request: If you have a prayer request,, we’d love to know! We have people eager to pray with and for you! Do you have a need request? You can let us know here!
Online Bulletin: I’d love for you to check out our bulletin each week. It has important announcements, links, and of course, the weekly sermon quotes. You can access it directly on our website, from the Church Center App, or you can get it here.
Looking forward to Sunday
We’ll be looking at the second half of Romans 6 on Sunday – God’s invitation to step out of the deceptive security our little cells of slavery and into the true and glorious freedom of his love.
Sermon Text: Romans 6:15-23
You’re going to have to serve somebody.
It may be the devil or it may be the Lord.
But you’re going to have to serve somebody. – Bob Dylan
Obedience is the mother of true knowledge of God. – John Calvin
All that we call human history – money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery – [is] the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy. – C.S. Lewis
Worry, fear, and sadness are smoke from the fires rising from the altars of our idolatry. – St. Augustine
The fish must honor its design. It is designed for water, not for land…Real freedom is finding the right restrictions. – Tim Keller