Church of the Pathetic Losers


It’s been quite a while since I’ve gotten as much response to a sermon as I received since last Sunday’s message. I mentioned Alistair Begg’s comment at the Pastor’s Conference that we are all “pathetic losers” who don’t have the power and don’t have the wisdom to know what to do next. Case in point: Jehoshaphat who, when the enemy was at the gate, prayed like this: “O our God, We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” (II Chronicles 20:12). Somehow that sounds nicer and more spiritual than, “Lord, we’re just a bunch of pathetic losers and if you don’t help us, we’re sunk!” but it means the same thing. There is something deep within us–pride, I suppose–or perhaps it is that good old can-do American spirit that faces every difficulty with unquenchable optimism, that causes us to fight against the notion of being a “pathetic loser.” Being a loser is bad enough, but a pathetic loser? I also remarked last Sunday about Joe Stowell’s comment that some days he is just sick of himself, which is really nothing more than Romans 7 updated. If you aren’t sick of yourself on a regular basis, your internal sick-o-meter needs adjustment. After the first service last Sunday, a man told me he had been up all night wrestling with the Lord because he was sick of himself. A woman told me that sometimes she gets on her own nerves. Don’t we all? One of our missionaries responded to my “pathetic losers” comment. Here is part of what he said: “All of us know that it is the absolute truth, so why deny it? Why not get it out in the open and deal with it? Why is it so hard for us, and especially us evangelicals, and ESPECIALLY EVANGELICAL LEADERS, to be simple, transparent, humble and open? Why is it so hard to get DOWN (yes I said ’down’) to where God is? He is humbler than we are! He is ‘lower’ than we are!” Many of us have heard the old Shaker hymn that goes like this: “’Tis a gift to be simple, ‘Tis a gift to be free, ‘Tis a gift to come down, where we ought to be.” Jesus told us how to live when he declared, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it” (Mark 8:35). In the Kingdom of God, all the values of the world are reversed. The way up is down. The last shall be first. The least will be the greatest. The servants will be the leaders. Are we really “pathetic losers?” Yes, and we don’t know the half of it. Everyday we should pray, “Lord, save me from myself.”

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