My church has a been going through the process of recruiting a new Minister. Our old Minister was tremendous, but his age and the size of the church caught up with his high touch style and he had to retire. In any case during the interim, before the new Minister is installed, the church elders have been filling in on the Sunday sermons. Last Sunday the message was on I Corinthians 13 – the love chapter.
So at the beginning of the service, like always, someone reads the scripture for the sermon and we pray that God would speak to us through the speaker. Now I should probably mention here that our old minister has a gift for speaking. I don’t mean to say he was in the same category as Apollos but there is no doubt he has a gift.
In any case one of the elders gets up to speak. This man is very intelligent, clear thinking and organized. He is also an engineer (dear to my heart of course but lets not get ahead of ourselves).
He set up a whiteboard and drew the representation of a process with inputs and an output, identified the inputs and output and talked a little about the activities of the process and how they work together to generate the outputs. He went on to talk about the difference between and open loop (no feedback) and closed loop (feedback) process and identified the drawbacks of the former and the advantages of the latter. He then drew a parallel between the Christian life and the process identifying the inputs (Bible Study, Prayer, Fellowship etc) and the output (Sanctification) and then proposed (with scriptural and scholastic references to justify the argument) that Agape Love is the characteristic to measure as the feedback input from the output back to the process. He then proceeded to go through the characteristics listed in the I Corinthians to identify how those characteristics are detected and measured, explaining as he did why those characteristics reveal Christ-likeness and how (with practical examples, esteeming others, long-suffering, etc.) the whole of the law and the prophets rest on these principals, and how Christ who emptied Himself provided the model for our actions.
Still with me?
So I have to say he spoke for probably an hour and the whole thing was coherent, well organized, detailed and consistent. As an engineer (and a Christian) I was frankly spellbound, as I have no doubt the other engineers in the congregation were. His arguments were thorough and conclusive. He was, how can I say this, analytical and dispassionate. I think my wife (who is not an engineer) used the word monotone.
At this point, if you think about it a little, you can see how this sermon was, not only a thorough exposition on why Love is essential to the Christian life but, an excellent opportunity for practical application of the principals contained within the message.
How cool is THAT! 🙂
So here is my question. Is it more likely that this man, though clearly intelligent and thorough, planned that level of recursion (and was a sufficiently accomplished actor to pull it off – remembering he is after all an engineer), or did God providentially answer our corporate prayer?