I used to keep a large ring binder, with a card index system, of quotes, stories and illustrations. I’d picked the system up from a senior pastor at some point, and it worked. Then one day, I just binned it. It was cumbersome and time consuming, but that wasn’t why I threw it away. I could do the same thing today with Evernote if I chose. But I don’t.
No, I chucked it because it was stale, and it didn’t need to be. Every item in that file was gathering dust and whiskers by the day, but the bible I was reading kept being proved true by the way people behaved on that day’s news.
The key principle is this: if the bible is true, then it will be ringingly true today. That’s because creation and salvation both find their origin in the same, consistent God, even though creation is subject to the fall and salvation isn’t. Everyone finds themselves at home in the ‘creation’ category, Christians find themselves at home in both, choosing salvation when forced to decide. But Salvation and Creation are not enemy categories. They rhyme, if you like.
Salvation and Creation are not enemy categories. They rhyme.
So you’ll be able to illustrate the truths of a biblical issue, if you need to, from what’s going on today.
So here’s my challenge.
I do believe in illustrating from outside the bible (I know that gets me into trouble with some of my readers) and it’s not because I don’t sign up for a particular doctrine or other. No, it’s because I’m looking for echoes of plausibility – those elusive ‘rhymes’ – and they are the most plausible when they are fresh.
So this week, as you prep your sermon, chuck out every illustration and quotation that you could have used last week.
Serve it up hot, and with the smell of fresh coffee.