Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Being Careful

Sometimes I wonder if I am too careful in my preaching and I wonder if other preachers wonder the same thing.

The thing is, though, that I really, really, really don’t want to say something in a sermon—an address in which I presume to speak for Almighty God—unless I can be as sure as possible that it is a right and proper thing to say.

When I’m studying a text in preparation for preaching, various ideas and interpretations and possibilities come to me and, once they come to me, I check them out as best I can. As I construct the sermon and make decisions about what to leave in and what to leave out, I ask myself how sure I am that something I am thinking about saying is true and therefore worthy of the sermon.

How do I test its truth?

The first question I ask of it is, “Does it accord with the best understanding of what Scripture says at which I can, through diligent prayer and study, arrive at this moment?”

The second—and I believe even more important—question is, “Does it accord with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ?”

If I can answer “Yes” to both questions, then I’m good to go.

If I have to answer “No” to either question, then I’m stopped in my tracks.

By applying those tests I’ve had to leave out a lot of crowd-pleasing stuff that would have been lots of fun to say.

Still, it seems to me wise to err on the side of caution lest I be found to be misrepresenting God and the Good News of Jesus Christ…

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