Devotional Thought of the Day
27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. 28 So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. 29 That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me. Colossians 1:27-29 (NLT)
“The key is not to offer commentary but to help the people in the pews understand what is happening in the text so that they can understand what is happening now and respond in faith,” (1)
Just as steel must be warmed before it can be molded or bent, the human heart must be warmed by the love of God in order to overcome fear and be molded by the truth of Gospel, the archbishop said. Without encountering the love of Christ, “the faith simply looks like rules and regulations.” Ultimately, priests and deacons foster an encounter with God when they preach Christ crucified, he said. (2)
When I was a Bible College Student, the method of preaching that everyone was being trained in was called expository or exegetical preaching. You went through a book of the scriptures, chapter by chapter, sometimes verse by verse, explaining the background, the language, the details so that people would have a deep knowledge of the passage. This was the method of greatly admired preachers like Chuck Swindoll, John MacArthur, Haddon Robinson, and within my brother at the time, pastors like Ben Merold and Max Lucado. Denominations like Calvary Chapel still make the claim that this is the only way to preach.
It was such a popular method that 3 of my four undergraduate courses in preaching were based in it, as were most of the 40 units I had in Bible. I have a good friend who has his MDiv and another graduate degree in it. I was trained in that way, and I still teach some Bible studies that way.
But I don’t preach that way anymore. Haven’t in a while.
And as I am teaching a course in preaching (called Homiletics) at the present moment, I’ve been thinking about it. How do you describe the style of preaching? I was reading the article the blue quotes come from, and I realized the word I was looking for to describe the style of preaching.
Now, before you get the idea that I am talking about end times scary stuff, that is not what apocalyptic means, nor for that matter what the apocalypse is about.
Apocalyptic preaching is revelatory! It reveals! It is about teaching what was hidden, what was concealed. Apocalyptic preaching is about that which was hidden behind the curtain (not the Wizard of Oz’s curtain, but the one in the Tabernacle/Temple.) It is what Paul is talking about to the church in Colossae – our hope is found in the secret being revealed. The secret of Christ being in us, being united to us, and us to His cross and resurrection. That united to Him, we will share in His glory, we will live eternally in the presence and love of God the Father.
Revealing that secret to people who are broken by this world, by its sin, just as the people ere in the days of Jesus, and all the days since Adam and Eve were broken. That God desires to bring healing to them, not just understanding. That God wants to reconcile them, not just demand from them. The sermon is to reveal Him to them, the relationship He desires to have with them, it should strengthen that relationship, help they trust Him, depend on them.
That isn’t always done if you are worried about defining the minutiae. What needs to be done, – show them their need for God, and show them, God, not just wanting to meet that need, but desiring to, no matter what it costs. Or what it costed. This is what gets us through the tough days, this is what gives us hope as we try to cope without our brokenness and the worlds. It is what gives us hope, even as we deal with death.
One last quote from the article.
“Sobering recent statistics reveal many Catholics (I would say Christians of many stripes) don’t even think it’s possible to have a friendship with God, so they certainly don’t know, with every fiber of their being, that they are loved, infinitely and passionately, by the One who has made it all,” he said (3)
Helping then know that, this is the nature of apocalyptic preaching. It is giving them the reason we have hope. To know that are cry, “Lord have mercy” is heard.
May everyone who preaches this weekend do that, and may people see revealed the love they need… and have. God’s.