Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Preacher's Unfavorite Sermons

Sometimes preachers have to preach on topics that they don't want to talk about. For me, personally, the topics that I least like to discuss are these: 1. Church Contribution. 2. Smoking, Alcohol, Gambling, et cet. 3. Modesty. 4. Attendance. You may ask why I am not excited when I am called to talk about these issues? Two reasons: 1. Most of the time people view this type of preaching as negative. 2. Christian people (those who have obeyed the gospel and who call Jesus "Lord" and who follow the Bible) should not need a great deal of help on these issues.

This coming Sunday, the elders have asked me to speak on modest apparel. This is a timely topic, as some people have the tendency to take off way too many clothes when the weather is warm. It is apparent to me that people need to be reminded about modesty. Just look at social media. This week alone I have seen posted pictures on web pages of a number of our folks displaying way too much of their bodies for everyone to see. Whether it is a trip to the lake or guys with shirts off at football games, it seems as if nobody has a problem with being immodest and inappropriate in public.

Recently this simple observation was made by a preacher while I was up in Michigan - "The parts that clothes cover are supposed to be covered." Correct. While certain outdoor activities in the heat allow us to wear less clothing for comfort (I run and when I do I wear cooler clothing), we need to be mindful of the reality that God saw the need to clothe His children in the garden once sin entered the world. If we do not use common sense coupled with Biblical teaching on this or any other issue, we are going to put a stumbling block in the path of other people and become a distraction to their spiritual walk.

When it comes to what we might call "topics of behavior" - the reason why the preacher thinks long and hard about these sermons is because so many people have learned to accept different standards. Church attendance - some people really think once a week is fine, and will go to the grave thinking that way. Modesty - strapless dresses and short skirts and bikinis and guys going shirtless or shorts with underwear showing for some are "no big deal" (and their parents don't care). Alcohol, cigarettes - there are people who will drink socially and smoke their whole lives because there is not a verse that says verbatim "thou shalt not smoke tobacco" or "thou shalt not drink an alcoholic beverage." Giving to the Lord - our churches typically give 3-4% of our gross income - which is gross indeed - and the bottom line is that some people have never fully committed themselves to Christ. The preacher knows that his only plea is to call people to holiness and to make the appeal that Christians think spiritually rather than carnally.

I am so thankful that preaching is aimed at pleasing God. There are times when you get up in the pulpit and you realize that a lot of people are not going to like what you have to say. It is then that you realize that you love them more than they could ever know. Because you are doing what has to be done, even though it is not what you would like to talk about if you had the choice.

Jonah was told to go to Nineveh. He did not want to go. But the people needed him to go. God said when he got there, "...preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee" (Jon. 3:2). Amen to that.

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." ~ 1 Corinthians 1:18

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