I hear it said occasionally that the “really good” sermons are those that we remember, or those from which we retain the main point. Don’t misunderstand: I have indeed heard sermons the main points of which I remember to this day. And I do consider them good, even great, sermons. But is our clear memory of them the criterion on which we should base how “good” they were?
Often, when someone recounts to me a story of some good sermon he or she heard, it usually begins and ends with an engaging illustration used. How many times can the person tell me what the point of the sermon actually was? Rarely, at best. The memorable sermons seem to be the ones that involved something out of the ordinary, or an amusing anecdote, or a witty observation. What about the Word of God that was preached?
So I propose a new standard for memorable sermons: not remembering them. Instead, the best sermons may be the ones that spoke the forgiveness of Jesus into our minds and hearts for some sin long forgotten. Or maybe it was the exact words of encouragement needed during a difficult time. Or maybe we have absolutely no idea what the purpose of the sermon in our lives was at the time, but God still worked His work through His words spoken and carried to our ears by the Holy Spirit.
If you remember a sermon because of the Word of God spoken and heard, good. But if you remember it simply because of something outrageous or out of the ordinary, without remembering the Word, it might be better that you just forget.