Tuesday is for Preaching
Years ago, when I taught preaching at a seminary in California, I loved to quote Alexander Whyte (1836-1921) on the preaching of Nathan the prophet. Here Whyte comments on Nathan’s message to David after David has committed adultery with Bathsheba.
“Preaching is magnificent work if only we could get preachers like Nathan. If our preachers had only something of Nathan’s courage, skill, serpent-like wisdom, and evangelical instancy. …
We ministers must far more study Nathan’s method; especially when we are sent to preach awakening sermons [strong exhortations]. Too much skill cannot be expended in laying down our approaches to the consciences of our people. Nathan’s sword was within an inch of David’s conscience before David knew that Nathan had a sword. One sudden thrust and the king was at Nathan’s feet. What a rebuke of our slovenly, unskillful, blundering work!
(Source: Bible Characters from the Old and New Testament: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume, Alexander Whyte, [Kregel, 1990], 245)
This week I got to preach in a church downtown and felt that my work was indeed “unskillful and blundering.” All of us clay-men will have those days. But it doesn’t mean we give up or that we retreat to telling trite sentimental stories or clever episodes from life guaranteed to offer a laugh track for the congregation. Tears in the eyes do not necessarily mean obedience in the heart. Rolling laughter rarely translates to laid-down-lives for justice and gospel living.
Good preaching is meddlesome. It is biblical. It explains the biblical text. It breathes a holy air. It lingers long in the presence of God before it arrives in the ears of a congregation. It saturates a preacher so that his voice rings with an authenticity that hearers know is that of a fellow traveler, not a high and mighty Pharisee.
We need more preachers and church planters who are faithful to the Word of Life so they can deliver the bread of life to the bride of Christ. Men, stay in your study, till you know that what you have discovered there must be heard by those whom you are charged to shepherd.
“Lord of Life, make me a better preacher. Make me such a teller of the bad news/good news that I am hated by those who do not seek truth, loved by those who do, and feared by those who hate it. Make me humble but make me bold. Make me care only that you are pleased. Make me love people so that their eternal joy is more important to me than their present comfort or value for me. Lord, would you raise up an army of such men in this generation? For the glory of the matchless name of Christ, I ask it. Amen”