February 6, 2005: Is Your Faith Suffering From: “Been There, Heard That?”

Let us pray: Dear Savior: help us avoid becoming complacent and bored with our faith!  Help us from taking Your love, truth, and forgiveness for granted.  Kindle in us a new flame of urgency and excitement as we contemplate our lives in, with, and under Your tender care.  Amen


TEXT:  2 Peter 1: 16-21

Fellow Redeemed Sinners:

Well, the doldrums of winter have begun to set in and I’ll bet that just like me—you’re a bit bored with it all.  O, the Patriots in the Super Bowl later today helps.  If you’ve got a special someone—Valentine’s Day helps, too.  Nonetheless, I’ll bet that you’ve begun to day-dream a bit about a vacation.  You’ve thought about special places that you’ve visited in the past, and perhaps even thought about returning.  However, the “been there, done that” syndrome surfaces and suddenly you find yourself longing for something new, fresh, vibrant, and alive.  Apparently that search for new vacation hot-spots is percolating throughout the American consciousness.  My Friday “Wall Street Journal” had a big article on it.  So, what are the “new hot-spots?”—Vietnam, Argentina, Kenyan safaris, and even the Dominican Republic! Yes, people are constantly searching out new adventures to avoid boredom.

Any pastor who has been in the ministry for very long will tell you that the late winter months, the Lenten season, is the hardest in any church.  More people problems arise, more spates and disagreements surface during this time than at any other time frame throughout the year.  Why is that?  Well, I believe it is because God’s people are bored.  Many of the long-time members are tired of the self-examination and introspection of Lent.  They’re tired of the weather.  They are tired of life.  They’ve heard the Lenten stories countless times.  They can recite most texts from memory.  And their faith begins to bore them because they take its life-giving power for granted.  So, today I want you to ponder this question:



The Apostle Peter was now an old man.  As he writes this letter bearing his name he’s looking back on his amazing, exciting life.  Peter had been there with Christ.  He had seen and done that!  Yes, Peter had seen Christ shed the shell of His humility and reveal what was underneath—the awesome glory of God—on the Mt. of Transfiguration.  He had heard with his own ears the thundering words from the Holy Father’s mouth: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  Likewise, Peter had seen with His own eyes the depth of Christ’s suffering for all human sin on the cross.  He had seen and talked to His risen Lord after the resurrection.  He had been present on the Mt. of Ascension, too, when Christ visibly left earth for heaven.  Did Peter ever get bored with his faith?  Did he ever tire of hearing God’s Word preached by the other apostles or proclaimed by Paul?  Did he succumb to the: “Been There, Heard That” syndrome?  I doubt it.  And I say that because as an old man Peter writes this:  “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  For he received honor and glory from God the Father (when He spoke of Christ at the transfiguration).”

Does this sound like a bored man who has given in to that lackadaisical attitude: been there, heard that?  “And we have the word of the prophets (the entire Bible) made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

Think about what Peter is saying!  He is telling us that the truths in our Bibles are more sure and more certain than His own eyewitness experience.  He is telling us that every time we ponder or hear of Christ’s work of saving our souls the experience and joy that it brings is even more awe-inspiring than if we had been there and seen it with our own eyes!  That’s an audacious thing to say!   How can that be?  It seemingly flies in the face of reality, doesn’t it?  And yet, it’s true.  It’s true because God the Holy Spirit works through and stands behind each word of the Bible to strike our souls and make Christ’s reality, our reality.  Indeed, the Holy Spirit makes Christ’s salvation our salvation.  He makes Christ’s suffering and death for our sins, our suffering and death.  And He also makes Christ’s resurrection and victory, our resurrection and victory.


Now Peter goes on to tell us even more.  “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture (no Godly truth recorded therein) came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.  For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

By definition, God is bigger, wiser, and more knowledgeable than we can even imagine.  Therefore His Word is also more full of meaning than any sentence we can ever speak.  Also, this means that (since God is not a God of confusion) everything He says has one Spirit intended meaning.  When it comes to His Word there is no “I think it means this,” or “maybe it might also mean that.”  No, it’s “Thus says the Lord!”  And what He says it true whether we accept and believe it, or not.  His truths are not dependant upon our faith or lack thereof.

So, why would we ever be bored with any of His truths?  Why would we go to church and leave with an attitude of: “Ah, been there, heard that?”  Of course, the answer is: sin.  The answer is: we have itching ears that don’t always like what we hear because it sometimes calls us to repentance.  It calls on us to change our ways, reform our lives, and put aside our unloving, unforgiving attitude.  It challenges us to embrace a life and a life-style outside the petty, me-first selfishness that we were all born with.

I’ve seen various people over the years who as children went to Sunday School, or attended parochial school, and who were well-grounded in the factoids of the Bible.  I’ve seen them yawn during sermons and go through the motions of worship out of habit and not out of joy.  I’ve seen the “been there, heard that” attitude etched on their faces.  If I’ve described you, and I have, than wake up!  Listen up!  Sit up!  Learn from old St. Peter.  Yes, learn anew the words of the hymnwriter who wrote: “Every morning mercies new, fall as fresh as morning dew.”  For when you do, you’ll experience a transfiguration, too.  Amen.