The Sermon Illustration I Did Not Use…

Recently, at my church, I preached a sermon on 2 Timothy 2:1-7. In this text, Paul encourages Timothy to suffer with him for the gospel using three metaphors: a soldier, an athlete and a hard working farmer. As I thought about these metaphors, one illustration came immediately to mind.

Disclaimer: Before you see the illustration let me say that I did not use this illustration in my sermon for multiple reasons. Here are a few:
1. The illustration is from the movie 300 (rated R). I don’t recommend this movie without telling people that there are two (sex) scenes in the movie. I recently rented the movie and told a couple of friends and my wife (!) that I was going to fast forward through these scenes. They asked me later to keep me accountable. (and so did my wife.)
2. Secondly, I decided not to use the illustration in my sermon so that I would not be recommending that people, especially young children, watch the movie. I don’t think I’m doing that now because I’m pretty sure that most of the people that read this blog are adults.
3. People have different views on movies (especially R movies), so I decided not to present an opportunity to distract, rather than draw attention to Paul’s point.

Obviously, I think the illustration is good, because I’m putting it on my blog…but not in the sermon. Maybe some of you could comment about the tension between illustrations from culture in sermonic material. Do we endorse movies when we quote from them? Is this helpful or not so much? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The verse that made me think of the clip is 2 Timothy 2:3-4–Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.

Clip setup: The movie, 300 is based on the story of the Battle of Thermopylae of 480 BC, in which an alliance of Greek city-states fought the invading Persian Empire at the pass of Thermopylae in central Greece. The pass was held off for three days by 300 Spartan soldiers, led by their King Leonidas. On the way to the battle, Leonidas and his men run into a party of Greeks coming to help in the battle…the leader of the Greek platoon is astonished by how few Spartans were going to take on the massive Persian army, reported at 1 Million.

The below dialogue illustrates, I believe, what it means to be singularly focused on the task at hand (the Spartans), instead of being a recruited civilian, ready at the first chance to give in and go home. Can you see the illustration? Enjoy!


3 thoughts on “The Sermon Illustration I Did Not Use…

  1. Keith says:

    Thanks for this man. I almost forgot about this part.

    And also appreciate the way you handled ‘not’ putting it in the sermon and the discernment that went along with that.

  2. Michael says:

    Its a great illustration and one i might use someday. If our goal is to connect with those we are called to reach and our services have those coming to discover if this God is real, this clip should connect well. It also addresses the point currently in vogue that church doesn’t connect well with men and we’ve immasculated much of our faith.

    Hopefully our congregations and audiences are learning that the goal is reaching out, building bridges and connecting with a lost world. I will use clips and frankly admit that I don’t recommend certain movies. It still may be a great illustration.

  3. Michael,
    Thank you for your encouraging comments. I think you have a good point about the clip resonating with most men in the room. Who knows, it might show up someday!

    Thanks again!


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