The Sting of God’s Word
Some naively presume that good preaching should leave the congregation feeling good. But most seasoned Christians have come to realize that the best, most meaningful and effectual sermons usually sting, if not wound. God warned that the Scriptures are “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of the soul and of spirit… discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Because good preaching accurately and skillfully relays the meaning, purpose and implications of a given text, it is bound to “pierce” parts of our lives that have previously laid comfortably untouched by the conviction of God’s word. During a good sermon a biblical text will utilize the preacher to unapologetically call God’s people to “break up their fallow ground, because it is the time to seek the Lord” (Hosea 10:12). Such disruption rarely comes without a certain degree of pain. Nevertheless, a good preacher knows he is commanded to hold up the mirror of God’s word and facilitate those poignant moments of honest introspection and self-assessment (James 1:23-25). While some prefer their naivety and will continue to seek out preachers and sermons that always aim at good feelings, they will do so at their own peril. A regular diet of feel-good sermons will swindle their hearers from the blessings and benefits of obedience. God laments the bad preaching which fails “to expose your iniquity” and thus is powerless to “restore the fortunes” of righteousness (Lamentations 2:14). So the next time the discomfort of a good, biblical sermon makes you squirm, remember that God is involved and is doing the necessary work of discerning and transforming the thoughts and intentions of your heart.
-- Pastor Mike
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