Sermon Illustration: Loving the Whole Person

Sometimes we walk away when people really just need to be loved.

Southern Baptist’s have been guilty of loving people until they are converted. The second someone “prays a prayer” or “signs a card” or “nods in agreement” that they really mean it – we leave and hope they figure out life on their own.

We love people until we “get us another one for heaven.”

We love the baby until he or she is born.

We love all people until a different “kind” moves in next door or sits in our pew.

To illustrate this in a recent sermon, with the hopes of compelling the congregation to love the WHOLE person, I used a scene from Robert Duvall’s movie The Apostle.

Early in the movie, Duvall and his wife (mother?) drive up on the scene of a wreck. Duvall, the Apostle, parks his car, runs to wrecked vehicle, and immediately uses every tool he has to lead the injured man in the car to Jesus. The man nods his head enough to acknowledge he could hear Duvall and believes. Duvall leaves, goes back to his own car, and tells his wife (mom?), “we got another one for Jesus!”

That’s great. Nothing wrong with that. What’s wrong is not what happened in that scene. What is wrong is what didn’t happen. I applaud this kind of intentionality. However, not once did Duvall do anything to try to actually help the injured man in the car. There was no attempt at rescue. There were no “are you hurt?” questions. It was all about “getting another one” and going on to the next thing. It was quite obvious Duvall could care less about the man himself, and more about getting on with his “heavenly” agenda.

In my opinion, it is a perfect illustration for demonstrating how we are guilty of not loving people with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. I would caution against showing the scene to your congregation (a bit too graphic). However, a picture of Duvall from the movie while you lay out the scene might be helpful.

What illustrations can you think of that demonstrate how guilty we can be of walking away from people who need us to love them . . . all of them?

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