In my experience, all the stories we love most have some element of impossibility. A battle that can’t be won, a relationship that just won’t work, an opponent that can’t be beat, a problem that can’t be solved, a foe too powerful to overcome.And then… something happens: A splinter of light in the darkness, the sound of back-up arriving, a forgotten promise kept, a chink in the armor suddenly revealed, an unlikely hero arising, a miracle.Our favorite stories aren’t great in spite of impossibility, they’re great because impossibility is a part of them. And because hope beyond hope, impossibility is overcome.There are few areas in our world today so rife with impossibility as sexuality. Voices and influences come at us fast and furious painting sexuality as something far from God’s beautiful design. Some of these voices are subtle, some seductive, but all of them sound so certain, professional, and authoritative. Even for the stalwart follower of Christ, the voices can sound so matter of fact that he or she feels a bit like an idiot not to buy into them.
• Men lust, that’s just what men do.
• It’s unhealthy and unnatural to live a chaste life if you’re single.
• If a spouse has been unfaithful, it’s just better to give up and start afresh.
• Porn and sexual experimentation are just a part of growing up.
• Some marriages aren’t made to last.
• And for those with same sex attractions, the only way to experience a healthy, meaningful life is to embrace a gay identity. Otherwise, despair and loneliness will follow you the rest of your life.
We need a more trustworthy authority than these voices. Scripture guides us. It reminds us that the accuser of the brethren accuses them—accuses us—day and night (Rev. 12:10). His accusations may be disguised, but at their core, they sound something like this:Those ideas you have: The idea that you could live chastely, that marriage is meant to reveal God’s image, or that you could be defined by a more trustworthy authority than your own desires and attractions, that Christ makes all things new, or that you (or any human, for that matter) could really love another with a self-giving love? All this is foolishness, antiquated, folly. It’s religious bondage, it’s unenlightened stupidity.
In short, it’s impossible.
Standing Amidst Impossibility
The truth is, those in Christ have his Spirit within and his seal on our lives. As we stand firm in love, even amidst the clamor of these voices, his image in us remains. And his quiet, sure voice tells us the truth of who we are as men and as women who bear His image.Still, those fast, furious, rapid fire messages come our way seeking to cover up his image in us, to quench what is true about us. It’s as though hands come out of the dark, slapping ‘hello my name is’ stickers all over us. Every sticker in some version or another reads impossible, impossible, impossible, not you, not important, not loved, not like God, impossible! But these are the same voices that tempted Jesus in the desert—the ones that said, If you’re really the Son of God, than why can’t you just do this, or do that? The same influences that tortured him in the garden, Surely if you were really God’s beloved Son, He’d let this cup pass from you. The same voices that mocked him on the cross, If you’re really the Messiah, if your really the Great Rescuer, why can’t you even save yourself?
And these are the same voices that had his disciples hiding in fear after he died, muttering and whispering to each other something like, “We thought He was the One.” For them, his grave clothes looked like a thousand labels that said, Impossible. And the giant stone over his tomb,—one more, final Impossible.
And then . . .
In the dark of the early morning, during their restless sleep, something happened: A glimmer of light, a chink in the impenetrable armor suddenly became visible, a forgotten promise was kept, an unlikely hero came through. A miracle. If the word Impossible covered his grave clothes, that morning each word shone with incredible light, each Impossible transformed into an eternal, authoritative, all powerful, I’m Possible.
His heart started pumping. He breathed in deeply like a man come up from a long dive under the cold ocean. His body warmed. And that giant, impossible stone moved aside to reveal its master—the living, breathing, walking, in-the-flesh, risen Jesus.
The Impossibility of Changed Lives
ImpossibilityMany of the men and women who have come to Regeneration over the past 30+ years aren’t living with the label Impossible anymore. Tonight, you’re going to hear from three of them. They don’t wear a sticker. It’s their lives that say In Christ all things are possible. And in him, their lives—like his—proclaim, I’m possible!
In Revelation 12:11, John goes on to say, “They overcame [the Accuser] by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony.” These men and women’s lives do just that. What about you? Will you listen for what the Father might be saying to you? Jesus is here, he is walking among us, he sits with us, he is speaking to all of us, inviting us into his story.Will you listen? Will you follow?
Remember those favorite stories I mentioned at the start—the impossible ones where someone stood up against the impossible and wouldn’t back down? For each one who stood up, there were thousands of others who didn’t—men and women (even seemingly good men and women) who bent the knee, slinked off into the crowd, went home, shut the door, got into bed, and pulled the covers up over their heads.
More “Impossibility” Looms
Like all of you, Regeneration faces impossible challenges today.Pornography is not only more accessible than ever before in human history, it is becoming increasingly mainstream. Millions dabble in it, assuming it’s not hurting anyone and that they’ll be able to stop whenever they want. Gay marriage is the law of the land in Maryland and 11 other states, as well as our nation’s capitol. And in June, the Supreme Court of the United States will decide on two landmark cases that may have ripple effects in our country and around the world.A number of well-known and very public Christian voices have come out in support of gay marriage or have added confusion by what they have or have not said. Their followers are left perceiving that the clearest, soundest sounding voices are those promoting homosexuality.In the midst of this, men and women who are personally tempted by same-sex attractions face increasing pressures to abandon Scripture’s teachings on sex and sexuality.
Kids are especially at risk. A high school student recently told me that every guy he knows in his school asks girl classmates to text them nude photos of themselves. He’s the odd man out for refraining. Meanwhile, the constant message young women receive is if they don’t send provocative pictures of themselves then they’re viewed as undesirable and disregarded. Our kids aren’t just viewing porn, they’re unwittingly becoming pornographers.We can too easily get bogged down in all of this, letting the impossibility of it all drive us to resignation.
But Jesus strides right into impossibility, unafraid, clothed in white, and exuding resurrection life and love.
So listen to the stories of those who have walked from darkness to light, those who have joined with Christ to wrestle pornography to the ground, and won. Listen to those whose marriages were in tatters, and through blood, sweat, and tears have experienced the power of his resurrection in the love of husband and wife. And listen to those who have laid their homosexual identities down and let Christ clothe them in new garments—not heavy garments that conceal, but rich and light garments that reveal who they really are.
In these stories, in the pages of Scripture, in the everyday, listen for how God makes impossible possible. Listen for the I’m possible. And listen for the ways Jesus is saying to you, that you’re possible—that the wonder he’s made you to be, that best self, that true self, that good and godly man or woman who bears his likeness and strides right next to him into impossibility—that you are more than possible in him“Looking at them, Jesus said, ‘With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God’” (Mark 10:27).