2 Corinthians 4:5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
I like the candid writings of the Apostle Paul. He always tells it like it is, even though his words may rankle our 21st century understanding of living our faith. He lived the latter part of his life as a devoted servant of Christ and ended up in prison for his faith. His mission was to spread the Gospel, plant churches, and confront evil in the world. He was arrested for being a religious radical and executed for daring to appeal to Caesar. I think if he was alive today, he would still end up being incarcerated or assassinated. Paul practiced what he preached and died for what he believed.
He must have been a great preacher, whose reputation spread across the small church communities in the Mediterranean region. He could have lived a charmed life and set himself up as a powerful orator, who would have been greatly esteemed and widely supported. However, Paul knew that his ministry of preaching was not about himself; it was all about Christ. He did not preach or teach to win personal favors. He preached to convince people of their sinful ways and essential need of Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Preaching was not a vehicle to pander to what folks wanted to hear; it was a channel of God’s Word, Work, and Way. To Paul, it was a method of leading people back to God’s favor and blessing through the life, sacrifice, and resurrection of Christ.
These days, preaching does not have the affect or influence that it once had. In any given week, preachers have about 20 minutes to impact church folks, which is not a lot of time compared to the hours we spend watching sports, viewing our TV programs, or catching up with our favorite celebrities. And it’s virtually nothing compared to the time we daily spend texting, tweeting, or face-booking. And yet, as Paul correctly wrote thousands of years ago, preaching is all about Jesus Christ being our Lord and how we should serve Him with our lives. In other words, preaching is about preparing us for Eternity, instead of pandering to triviality or popularity.
Questions for personal reflection
What did the pastor preach about last Sunday? Is that message still affecting me today?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You personally chose Paul as the most important preacher of the Gospel and teacher of Your Way. His words still ring true today, but we sometimes push back against them. Help us to re-read his writings to give us a better understanding of how to live our lives in service to You and God’s Kingdom. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask questions or make a comment about today’s message, John will be delighted to receive your email. Send him your comments to Traqair@aol.com.
Today’s image is John’s current bulletin cover design and is based on Psalm 150. If you would like to view a larger version online, please click on the link: Psalm 150.