I’ve noticed a dichotomy to preaching. On one hand, a preacher is to herald the Word of God, and to “be not afraid of their faces,” (see Jer. 1:8.) On the other hand, this is God’s church, and “the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves (see 2 Timothy 2:24-25.)
A preacher is to have both boldness and care. Both truth and love. Both fire and smiles. Both reproof and encouragement.
On any given day, a group from all walks is assembled. Babes and sages, cold and hot, growing and dry. Some need the Word to break up their fallow ground; others need the Word to nourish their famished soul.
Whatever the need, God’s Word can supply. It was good enough for Jesus; it’s good enough for me.
But what about when it seems too harsh, or too bold, or too soft, or too weak? What about when the preacher isn’t living up to what the hearers think he should be?
When the preaching contradicts you, I suppose there are two responses: pride and humility.
A prideful man hears the contradiction and takes offense. “How dare he!” A humble man hears the contradiction and looks for truth. “God, should I?”
We live by the beautiful distinction of individual soul liberty—you’ll stand before God and give account for your own decisions, including the decisions of your reactions.
If the preacher says, “Sunday night church is good for Christians to attend,” you can respond with “How dare he!” Or, the humble response asks, “God, should I come tonight?” I know people with legitimate reasons for not coming on Sunday nights, and they’ve truly had the humility to ask God, “God, should I?” Before God, they believe the answer is, “No.”
Praise the Lord!
If the preacher says, “Treat your restaurant server with respect,” you can huff and puff and blow the house down with reasons why every waiter within 50 miles of here is a buffoon… or you can ask, “God, did you tell on me?”
Nobody told on anybody. I don’t know of specifics. I wasn’t addressing anyone or any specific problem or something someone told me. None of that.
I’m just trying to bridge the gap between the two worlds: heaven and earth. The Bible has something to say to us. Americans. In 2021.
I’m just saying… maybe we should be Christians in the church AND in the restaurant. Servers are souls, too.
“You’re targeting me!” Not true. But if it happens to hit home, your RE-action is as important to God as your action. If someone “steals” your seat, or misspells your name, or should’ve known, or showed that they were human… remember… we’re not suffering as bad as Paul.
The message from last week remains: Are you training as a warrior for Christ? Can you “endure all things” for the sake of others?
God, keep us from pettiness. Give us a church of WARRIORS.