A friends and I were talking about a preacher whom we both knew and thought of highly. We agreed he was always clear, intelligent and winsome.
‘But,’ I said, ‘if you notice, you only ever hear him preach from one of the gospels, never the Old Testament, or an epistle.’
‘And’, chipped in my friend,’ only part of the gospels too. He’ll tell you that God loves you, includes you, accepts you as you are. He’ll tell you about change, and the Holy Spirit. He does that very well. But he’ll never warn you of judgement, or the dangerous nature of sin.’
And we paused.
Because we both knew that if you always preach love, but never judgement, you haven’t actually preached biblical love, just your unbiblical sentimentalism. You’re off-centre, and dangerously so.
Your car mechanic will tell you, rightly, if your wheels need balancing. Your doctor will tell you if your blood, or heart, or insulin levels are out of balance. Off centre is dangerous.
Who will tell you if your preaching is off-centre?
Four questions pop into my mind – at least four.
- First, if people had to summarise the core element of my preaching, what would they say it was?
- Second, if people had to summarise what I never, or rarely preach about, what would they say?
- Third, is that imbalance just a consequence of what you happen to be preaching through, or is it a genuine bias? Is that intentional or unintentional on my part?
- Fourth, at what point does that imbalance stop being my loveable eccentricity, and become a dangerous deviation from biblical norms? Or, better, where do I suspect my dangerously weak points might be?
For ‘I’, read ‘you’. Take a moment to ponder whether your critics might be right.