What was the issue? One of the students complained that Dr. Piper's sermons made him feel bad.
This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt “victimized” by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love. In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.
Now, shame is inevitable when confronted with God's unyielding standard. When I read First Corithians 13, I felt bad, too. I do not love with that kind of love. In fact, none of us can.
Now, I differ with the pastor's lesson for the young student:
I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen. That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience. An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad. It is supposed to make you feel guilty. The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins—not coddle you in your selfishness. The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization.
Sermons have been making parishioners feel bad for decades. Guess what? It's not working. The Bible does not teach us to level men and women with shame.
Jesus Christ went to the Cross, and scorned the shame! He also took our shame.
"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12: 2)
"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus," (Romans 8: 1)
We are called to be free of our conscience. A knowledge of right and wrong, and confession of sins, cannot make us holy.
The grace of God does!
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Titus 2: 11-14)
At OKWU, we teach you to be selfless rather than self-centered. We are more interested in you practicing personal forgiveness than political revenge. We want you to model interpersonal reconciliation rather than foment personal conflict. We believe the content of your character is more important than the color of your skin. We don’t believe that you have been victimized every time you feel guilty and we don’t issue “trigger warnings” before altar calls.
Not one mention of Jesus, or everything the He is. He is our life. There is no better route to being selflessness than receiving a new life, a new self.
Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a “safe place”, but rather, a place to learn: to learn that life isn’t about you, but about others; that the bad feeling you have while listening to a sermon is called guilt; that the way to address it is to repent of everything that’s wrong with you rather than blame others for everything that’s wrong with them. This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up.
Life is about Him who has been from the beginning! (1 John 2: 12-15)
This is not a day care. This is a university.
I agree that universities are not about babying young men to be children. It's about raising grown children to be young, strong men and women.
Grace makes us strong men and women. Not shame, not bitterness, not constantly searching for forgiveness.
We have this forgiveness in Christ Jesus, and we continue to receive His gifts of righteousness!