You Better Be Right If You Want to Preach
An email showed up in my inbox today that made me sit back and take a long, hard examination of my responsibility in preaching. I won’t discuss the details but the issue centered around a series I did a few years back on divorce and remarriage. I hated that series and my stomach still gets tight thinking about it. It is one of those series you need to do but you realize you better do it right because you are affecting people’s lives in a major way. And the series did just that for several in the church.
Now the series is in the background and yet it still lives on because of the internet so a certain man listens to it and now writes to me for counsel. Hard counsel. I don’t know him, but I am now accountable for him because I decided to preach. I will respond to him and I think my counsel will be an encouragement to him. But it makes me do some serious thinking again about the nature of pastoral ministry, especially in the arena of preaching.
Those who read this blog consistently knows I have strong thoughts about the light and frothy preaching that so many practice in my country these days. For too many, the Sunday gathering of people is more like an event that is planned out to create an experience rather than the careful proclamation of the Word of God to the People of God as they gather in the name of Jesus Christ their Lord. My personal desire is to cause the people to hear the Word and be confronted with it in such a way as to force them to make a decision each week, “Is this true or not?”
But if you are going to preach you better be right in what you say. You better work hard on the text of the bible from which you are preaching. You better be up there in the pulpit with a confidence that you understand the text and you can teach it to the people. But you also better remember that those people are not there because of you, at least they better not be. They are there because they are people purchased from their enslavement to sin by the blood of Jesus. They are His and not yours. And therefore you better be careful with that thing you call “the Word of God” because that is what it is, God’s Word and not yours.
Realize that those people listening to you are assuming you worked hard on the passage this week. They are assuming you know what it means and are convinced that they need to hear it and obey it by the power of the Holy Spirit. And when you preach through the bible you will have to teach on subjects that will affect people in a major way. How people raise their children, go to work, view their household, think about marriage, interact with people and countless other things will be affected.
So when you say from the pulpit, preacher, that “the Word says. . . .” you better be right because someone there is going to actually act on what you preach.
Now, perhaps I can get back to the sermon I am finishing right now for this Sunday.