Pastor Matt Chandler gave this illustration during his sermon at a recent Desiring God conference. I think this illustration powerfully communicates the difference between moralism and the Christian gospel.
During my freshman year of college, I sat next to a 26-year-old single mother trying to get her degree. We began a dialogue about the grace and mercy of Christ in the cross. Some other guys and I would go over and babysit her child and try to talk with her. A friend of mine was in a band playing in the area and we invited her to hear him. She agreed. She thought it would be a concert. I knew better. It was shady and she agreed to come.
The minister got up and said, “Today I want to talk to you about sex.” And I immediately thought, Uh oh. He took a red rose, smelled it, showed how pretty it was. Then, threw it out in the crowd and told them to smell the rose. “I want you to smell it and touch it and feel the texture in it.” (There were about 1000 people there.) He then began one of the worst, most horrific handlings of what sex is and isn’t that I ever sat through. It was fear-mongering at its best.
I’m thinking, with Kim beside me, What are you doing? As he wrapped up, he asked, “Where’s my rose?”
Some kid brought the rose back and it was broken. The petals were broken. And he lifts it up. And his big crescendo is to lift up that broken rose and say, “Now who would want this?”
Anger welled up within me and I wanted to say, “JESUS WANTS THE ROSE! That’s the point of the gospel! That Jesus wants the rose. That he made him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Watch the video: