If the pressing, eternal problem of man was boredom, then the church’s answer would be entertainment. If man’s deepest need was to win friends and influence people, we could offer Dale Carnegie courses. If the void in our hearts came from chronically poor self-images, then we could provide support groups.
But the problem with man is sin. And the tragedy is that neither preachers nor people understand this. For that reason, we have commandeered preachers into being promoters.
This is an ancient and venerable temptation. In Israel there were prophets who confused preaching with a popularity contest. They proclaimed placeboes when they should have been dispensing permanent truths.
Jeremiah complained that “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace'” (Jeremiah 6:14).
They were applying Band-Aids to cancer victims!
Who was at fault for this state of affairs? “A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land,” Jeremiah explained, “the prophets prophecy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it that way!” (Jeremiah 5:31).
So the fault lay in the preaching … and in the pew. They colluded in an effort to be popular, to avoid offending.
The plain-spoken Charles Hodge wrote recently: “We are falling all over ourselves trying to ‘connect.’ God never called us to connect. He called us to preach!”
Whatever euphemism man uses for it, God calls it sin. Those who persist in sinful living will find it fatal. Beloved, we have gone far beyond feel-good performances and platitudes. We need preaching! The subject of preaching should be God’s word and how man fails to live up to it!
“Moderns say that man has not sinned ? he is a victim. God is to come and prop him up with self-esteem and tickle his fancy. Moderns say they don’t like authority, will not listen to preachers, and are not about to repent! If God wants to ‘connect’ he must do it man’s way! It won’t work!”
(Charles Hodge, “Keynoter”, June 22, 2000).
Often we respond to preaching by giving it our “reviews.” What we should be doing is giving its author our repentance!
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