What we ought to be preaching to a hurting and needy world
I’m writing this post 5 hours after the doctors had administered a paralysis drug into mother-in-law just minutes before they were to switch off her life support. Shocking, I know! However, 5 hours ago, I was writing a sermon and pondering the kind of sermon ought we be preaching to our church. The problem is that today’s preachers are just torn in trying to work out how and what to preach. Everyone has an opinon about what’s wrong with our preaching! For example, when you read some of the Christian luminaries, they say things like:
“… at the end of the day people are not asking about the five points of Calvinism, the trichotomy or dichotomy of the Spirit or the peccability/impeccability of Christ! They are asking “why is my life falling apart?” Or, “how do I get past the fact that I was sexually molested when I was eight?” Or, “how do I, as a single mom, lead and provide for my family?” (Perry Noble from his blog)
And 5 hours ago, before the phone call, I tended to agree, to an extent. We live in a world racked by sin and death and decay. We live in a world where we and the people we love suffer, grieve and are victims of other barbaric and violent sinful humans. But now after 5 hours of reflection and prayer and crying out to God in pain, I dare suggest (and with the greatest of respect for Perry Noble and co) that to preach a needs centred, how-do-i-cope-with-life message to God’s church is a cop out. And I say this not because I am some expert in preaching or some guru in solving the world-wide church’s problems, but as we’re currently going through a crisis, here is what I want to hear:
I want to hear of a God who is mightier, stronger, more loving, more majestic, more gracious than anything or anyone I could ever wish for or imagine. I want to hear of the the God who is holy, holy, holy (Isa 6). I want to get to know the God who is all powerful, omni-potent, omni-prescent, eternal, unchanging . I want to hear of the God who is the divine and soveriegn King of unrivalled power, holiness, love and glory.
This God is the one who doesn’t owe us, is not manipulated by our demands or instructions, and is not dependent on us in any way. This God is the one “who made the world and everything in it and doesn’t live in temples made by humans, as though he needed anything” (Acts 17). This is the God who freely gives salvation by sending His Son Jesus to die for us. This the God who if is for us then no one and nothing could stand against us (Romans 8).
Unfortuately if our preaching is not grounded in this God then all the psycho-analysis and all the useful life-skills and all the world’s wisdom just seems trite and limp and lame and even pathetic.
I want to know how to make sense of people being struck down in their prime. I want to help people whom Perry Noble is speaking of. But the answers to our problems are not sociological or pschycological … instead our answers are theological as they lie in turning back to God and every fibre of our being putting our trust in His Son, Jesus Christ. Our preaching must as it’s primary focus be bringing the church into the presence of God. For it is only when we are God-centrered and knowing God who has revealed himself to us in Christ, will we truly find God-centred and God-honouring solutions to the most dificult of our life’s problems.
I’m sorry for my rant. But I hope this helps! Also my sincerest thanks to all who have been supporting Viv and myself over the last few weeks, and especially the last 5 hours. My mother-in-law has had a miraculous late rally, but the doctors still don’t think she’ll make the night. Thankfully, God is in control and in his loving-kindness he will do what is best for her.