A preacher's pep talk

August 4, 2008

When I am in the locker room of my study, feeling dejected, downcast, weary and defeated from the preaching effort, I read:

For
there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of
all and is generous to all who call on him. For, "Everyone who calls on
the name of the Lord shall be saved."

But how are they to call
on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in
one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without
someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they
are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who
bring good news!" (Rom. 10:12-15).

Why do we keep preaching? Why
don’t we just get rid of the whole thing and free up 10-20 hours of our
week? Why don’t we get rid of preaching in exchange for some group
sharing or more coffee time?

Paul
tells us that we preach because people still need to hear about the God
who is generous to all. We preach because people still need to hear
there is a God worth believing in. We preach because it is the
opportunity for someone to hear some good news.

This calling
requires the best of our imagination, skill and love. Our task is to
open up the good news of Jesus Christ through speech that is clear,
dramatic and artistic. Our sermons should lead others to join in a
conversation about transformation in Christ and a faith that pushes us
out of the worlds in which most of us are trapped.

In 1907, P.T.
Forsyth began his Lyman Beecher Lectures with these words: “It is,
perhaps, an overbold beginning, but I will venture to say that with its
preaching Christianity stands or falls. . . .The Christian preacher is
not the successor of the Greek orator, but of the Hebrew prophet. The
orator comes with inspiration; the prophet comes with a revelation.”

Revelation
is why we keep preaching. God uses the spoken word to reveal the living
Word. This is an event that can’t be teased or manipulated by
technique. Even a bad sermon can be used by God to reveal God. That is
the hope of us who preach. Revelation is always gift—always grace. On
this grace Christianity stands or falls.