Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Personal Plea to Preachers

Contained here are some comments on preaching and some desperate pleas regarding it. There are the things that I need so badly that I generally don't see or hear coming from pulpits (with some exceptions). But it isn't just that I need them or like them or prefer them. I see them in Scripture, especially in the epistles to the churches. This is one of the reasons why I believe expositional preaching is necessary. You can miss so much if you do not take and handle directly the very words themselves.

I just finished reading through Colossians and 1 Thessalonians. I see so much in there that I crave and long to hear proclaimed to me every Sunday, from the pulpit. I need to do my own study, for sure, but I need leaders taking the prophetic place of a Paul or Peter and leading me, proclaiming God to me, encouraging me, admonishing me, warning me, etc.

Maybe we don't see much of it because we live in middle-class America. We live as though life will just keep going on and on and on from one day to the next. We will get up tomorrow and do our routine all over again. Therefore, we hear practical life tips and get some "good information" about God and the Bible. When I look at the epistles, I see so much more than life tips and a data-dump of information, and I believe preaching must be more than this, as well. This is part of it, but it is not all of it by any means. There are practical things in the epistles, for example, but they are encased and unfolded in the backdrop of God's glorious grace in Jesus Christ. Please, if you are a preacher, hear the needs of my soul!

First, I need God and the gospel. I see the apostles unfolding God over and over and over again to these people. I realize that each church had different issues, but it all came back to God and the gospel -every single time, no exceptions that I have seen. I need preaching that understands this and seeks to give me what I hunger for most. I don't primarily need practical life tips, although they can be helpful. I need God! That is where I obtain the power to do what He wants me to do in the first place -by having God brought to bare on my soul through the proclamation of the Word of God. I need God, and specifically, I need God who is for us in Christ Jesus on the cross.

Second, I need some seriousness and urgency. Paul knows he is writing to people who are, in some cases, seriously enduring persecution. Regardless, Paul understands that he writes about serious things of eternal consequence. He writes with urgency. We may not know it, but our life may be mostly complete. We may not live but another day. Furthermore, the Lord will return. In 1 Thessalonians, this is an important theme. I almost never hear this talked about from the pulpit. Jesus is coming back, and it might be tomorrow! It is not sufficient to have that bumper sticker that says, "Jesus is coming back soon. Look busy!" No, I need to know what is so great about that. I need to know the hope. I need it more than mentioned. I need it unfolded and hammered into me. I need to be reminded that He is coming back, and He will judge. When I read Paul's letters, I get a totally different vibe than I do listening to most preaching today. It sounds like Paul is ordering a batallion or platoon. "Pull it together, men! Don't give up the fight!" What fight? I hear very little on there being a "fight."

Third, and with this, I almost never hear serious warnings. I don't know if all the preachers assume that everybody is elect or if they assume that people don't need to be seriously warned about sinful attitudes or behaviors and their eternal significance. Yes, we know that these behaviors are bad. Yes, it will ruin relationships. But where is the warning about the soul! Forget the now, my relationships now. Those are important, but if I am lost and destroyed in hell... then what? Where is the eternal, weighty, God-ward significance of sin? Where are the warnings? Where are the admonitions?

Listen, everybody has their own preaching style, and they need to say it in the way God has built them. I am not saying everybody needs to be John Piper or John Bunyan or Tim Keller or R.C. Sproul. I'm also not saying that I could somehow do better. This isn't about that. I know that I really have no idea how difficult being a pastor/preacher can be. I'm saying that I need preaching that is the in the spirit of the apostolic preaching. I need God, the gospel, seriousness, urgency, warning, admonition, and hope. I don't just prefer it. My soul really needs it. Otherwise, I starve. I hope this does not come across pridefully, but if others do not want these things, I submit that it is because they are so starved that they have lost the taste for food. They don't know what they need or are hungry for.

1 comment:

Bumble said...

Sorry friends, but we couldn't offer you what we don't have. Practical advices are easier to dish out than authoritative truth.

That's sad the problem.