Where have the Preachers gone? Vol 35
We had a guest speaker at church today…someone I didn’t know…but at the same time…did know. Our church is “tuned” to be culturally relevant. We are the “less is more” model…or are becoming that way. I get it, and for the most part support it. We don’t water down the gospel and are not apologetic of our theology. David’s sermons or “talks” as he calls them now are brilliantly communicated and very applicable. Yet this morning I enjoyed the “preaching.” Preaching is not a word that is thought well of these days.Kind of like being “Baptist.” In fact it would probably test negative in a focus group. Nonetheless, I do sometimes miss it.
This generation has some great communicators…but few great preachers. Few with the passion, depth and fire of a Dwight Moody, a Charles Spurgeon, or Billy Graham. These men were not only great communicators but great orators, preachers, men of God with a passion for souls that ignored cultural norms and simply did what God called them to do. They preached. I’m not saying they were any more or less effective than anyone else. It is not the man…he is only the vessel. It is and always will be God at work in the man, speaking as the Holy Spirit empowers him to proclaim the word of God.
Preaching in my mind is less complicated than trying to communicate. Preaching by definition is really just proclaiming. “Ow!…you stepped on my toe!” is a proclamation. It’s just plain truth. It doesn’t have to be tuned to an audience…if you heard that statement you’d know exactly what was being said without a story, a cute turn of a phrase, a supporting book, tee-shirt or a class on the anatomy of a toe and what makes it hurt when it’s stepped on. When we say “Jesus is Lord!” we are proclaiming a truth from Scripture. Scripture says that the Word will not come back void or without result. Sometimes I miss the simple preaching of the Word. Line upon line…truth upon truth. Let it say what it says…proclaim it!
In the end, if it is to be effective, all the communication and all the preaching of the Word of God comes down to an offense. If we love people and believe that God wants us to accomplish the great commission in Matthew 28, then we must be willing to offend, Not because of our manner or style (we should never bore people…) but because the gospel IS offensive to people both far from God and parked close to the truth. The ultimate victory for the unbeliever is to be offended to the point that he or she realizes that we all are sinners…and that without a God authored change in our lives through Jesus Christ, we will go to an eternity without Christ in a place the Bible calls Hell when we die. “Really?” Yes…really. (John 3:16)
We have to make a conscious decision to trust the saving work Jesus Christ did on the cross, dying for the sin of the world and raising again the third day…defeating death and delivering hope to every person who would believe in Him.
Jesus said I am THE way, THE truth, THE life, No man comes to the Father except by me. That one statement crosses all cultural norms and boundaries. It is offensive to those who hold other beliefs that they think will get them their virgins or to Nirvana, Valhalla or some other afterlife . It is about as narrow thinking as one can get. It leaves no room for “but…” or “what about…” It is a statement that offers all the opportunity to come and be offended as I was some 43 years ago when I invited Jesus into my heart by prayer, to be my Savior, and my Lord. I have rarely been the Christian I could be…should be. But my life was changed in that offense. My eternal destination changed…,my life’s purpose changed. Jesus said behold I stand at the door and knock. If any man will open the door and let me in, I will come in and have fellowship (relationship) with him.
Knowing how big a sinner I am…one of the things I’m going to ask the Lord one day is why he loved me that much. I don’t understand it…but by faith I believe it. And it has changed me forever.