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« Pastoral Charge | Main | Exhortation: A Dying Art? »

I'm Just a Preacher

I went to college many years ago, so occasionally I look through college catalogs to see what they’re teaching these days.  That, in itself, is an education.  A typical catalog describes courses in the psychology department as “Life-Span Development: A Cross-Cultural Perspective;” “Mental Health in Historical and Social Contexts;” “Family Dynamics and Therapy” and “Special Problems in Abnormal Psychology.”  The sociology department was even more interesting.  “Sociology of Sexualities;” “Definitions of Normality” and “Family Violence” were some of the course options.  I would probably just blow your mind if I were to include course descriptions in Leisure Studies, Women’s Studies, Theatre Arts, Television and Radio. 

The point of all of this is that today’s cultural mosaic is so diverse and complex that the calling to be a preacher sometimes seems simplistic beyond comprehension.  What used to be a fairly straightforward approach on the issues of life is now divided and sub-divided into endless iterations of subtle differences. Even professors sporting post-graduate degrees can come across as ignoramuses when meandering across a relatively thin line into another academic field.  Expertise now exists on a rapidly shrinking island. 

Now comes the preacher.  He purports to have all the answers to all the problems of all the people in the world.  He bases his grandiose claims on a book written nearly two thousand years ago and he delivers his message with a shockingly confident attitude.   In the eyes of a sophisticated world, he is just an interloper who exploits the naïve and frustrates real social progress.  But, because this assessment has been well established in mainstream society, more and more preachers, awash in self doubt and smarting under the ridicule, have begun to backpedal from their message.  Some have blatantly denounced the orthodox beliefs they did hold and have redefined their ministry.  Joel Osteen, for example, has abandoned conventional Christianity and embraced a hybrid form of universalism.

Has preaching become irrelevant?  Is the typical sermon a lightweight, uninformed harangue on the state of modern culture?  Is the preacher an imposter who needs to be replaced by a college professor, a life coach/therapist, an expert or a social engineer? 

Well, it all depends on who you’ve given access to your mind.  Do you think the educational industry is going to come out in full-blown criticism of its own?  Before you invest too heavily in the chaps with more degrees than a laboratory thermometer, do some investigating.  For starters, read Robert D. Anderson’s article today (8-29-13) in the Huffington Post.  His PhD degree notwithstanding, he trashes secondary education. I would love to include a number of his quotes, but it would take me too far off my theme.

If the students are a product of their teachers, what kind of disasters must the teachers be?  Point is, reject the Christian-bashing, holiness-hating, self-exalted gods of academe.  Besides, many of them are diametrically opposed to each other, even in the same discipline.

The staying power of Christianity is two thousand years strong.  Preaching Christ and Him crucified is not only a relevant message for today; it is the preeminent message for all time.  Never be embarrassed that you are “just a preacher.”  Never stutter or stumble with proclaiming the Word of God because some in your audience are more highly educated than you.  Don’t try to redefine your role as something other than a preacher.  Don’t “poor-mouth” the greatest job in the world. 

Preaching occupies an anointed and critical place in the life of the church.  “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”   1 Corinthians 1:21. 

Preach repentance.  It is the best therapy for the soul.

Preach love.  It’s what would make true sociology work best.

Preach truth.  All the philosophy professors in the world can’t do better.

Preach peace.  You can’t take enough political science courses to make it happen.

Preach creation.  Evolutionists need to know.

Preach that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Biologists should take note.

Preach the Acts of the Apostles.  Historians need the lesson.

Preach full Bible salvation.  Sinners will respond.

Preach the Word of God.  It will edify everyone.

I am not just a preacher.  I am a preacher.  My message outweighs all other messages combined.  My message not only changes lives on earth, it opens the door to heaven. 

Preacher, preach the best you know how.  But regardless of how well you preach, if you preach truth you are doing a fantastic job!  Style, delivery, creativity, insight and composition all have their place, but truth trumps all of them.  The man with the keys is the man who unlocks the door.

“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  Matthew 16:18-19 (KJV)

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