See, an illustration should illustrate a biblical truth!
A sermon illustration needs to pop. It needs a certain kind of life to help the congregation make connections between God’s Word and their own lives.
But how far is too far?
Yesterday we celebrated Saints Triumphant. We celebrated the upcoming triumph we will have over sin, death, and Satan as Jesus shares his victory with us. He’s already won the war, and then we’ll celebrate triumph in our personal battle as well.
I focused a bit of the sermon on our current distress. I talked about our enemies trying to tear us away from Jesus – those enemies we will be triumphant over. I talked about how God has not left us without weapons. He has given us a sword.
And then I took a full sword out of the pulpit.
In fact, this is the sword I used! Narsil, from Lord of the Rings. It wasn’t mine. I borrowed it from a congregation member.
I talked about how a sword is important in battle. It’s used to kill and lead and protect all at once. God’s given us a blade that only Children of God can use. It’s a weapon we can use to rally others to God’s banner as well as slaying the enemy. Oh, that weapon is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
I held up both the blade and the Bible. “The Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword!” We talked about our battle and how to use God’s Word as we continue to fight.
It took up… maybe (maybe!) five minutes out of a twenty-minute sermon.
And my question is… did I go too far?
I will say that the illustration is solid. I took it straight from Scripture; St. Paul and St. John both call God’s Word “The Sword of the Spirit.” But… that wasn’t the main point of the sermon. And now, if anyone thinks about the sermon, I suspect they’ll remember the sword. They’ll remember the part about fighting… but not the part about triumphing.
I think I went too far. I think I used a good illustration at the wrong time. I should use an illustration like that when talking about “the Armor of God” from Ephesians. That would be a great time to actually show real armor or weapons. But now, when we’re talking about triumph?
So, yeah. Illustrations should pop… but they shouldn’t be the thing that the congregation remembers, and it shouldn’t be used to illustrate a “minor” point. The big illustration should be used to underline the main point.
Hey, I’m still learning. And I know better for next time…. I hope.