Something interesting happened this past Sunday at our weekly church gathering. It was unintentional on my part, but I'm glad it worked out the way it did.
As part of our worship service, I recited from memory II Corinthians chapter 5. I love this passage for several reasons, but in particular because of Paul's emphasis on reconciliation with God. This is a chapter that I have been memorizing for the last month or so. I have to admit that I was nervous as I began reciting the passage, but the Lord in His grace carried me through it.
Later in the service, I preached on another wonderful Pauline passage - Colossians 1:15-20. This is the scripture where Paul focuses in on the absolute preeminence of Jesus Christ in both creation and redemption.
Here is the interesting (and unintentional) part to all this. Because I both recited scripture from memory and preached a sermon in the same service, I could see the effect that both had on the church body. Prior to the service, the comparison between the two never crossed my mind.
What I found was that the memorized scripture passage appeared to have a much deeper impact on our church family than did the sermon. I realize that one reason for this could be that it was novel to them. However, I think more was going on that just that. I believe our folks were struck by the power of the word of God as it was spoken. As I recited the passage, they realized that they were not hearing the words of a man, but rather the words of God. While I was doing it, our people were very quiet and attentive.
By comparison, during the sermon the congregation did not appear to be as interested in or affected by what I was saying - even though the scripture passage was wonderful. I'm not suggesting that they were falling asleep (at least not most), but they also did not seem to be as deeply affected by my words as I preached.
What is the conclusion? The words of God are much more powerful than the words of man. We all know this, of course. It was just interesting to see it in action.
I think I'll soon be working on memorizing another passage - and encouraging other members of our church family to do the same.