“You suck, try harder.”

Photo by Greyson Joralemon

I used to work with Jim Belcher, the author of Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional.  Since Jim and I, along with Mark Oestreicher (now at Youth Specialties), helped launch the Warehouse Service at our church, we spent lots—and lots—of time talking about preaching, worship, and community.

In the book, Jim reminds me of a phrase we used to joke about because it’s so often how sermons end up feeling to people in the pews:  “You suck, try harder.”

How far that is from the gospel message that reminds us that God’s created us as good—  in God’s image.  How far that is from the obedience and good works that are only possible through grace, not our effort.

Last week some friends and I got cheap tickets to see Legally Blonde, a musical based on the movie by the same title. One of the songs was boasting in how having a “chip on your shoulder” helps you accomplish great things.

I couldn’t help but think of the gospel, and how God removes the chip on our shoulder and replaces that with God’s grace.