Read 2 Corinthians 4:5-7
5 You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. (NLT)
Preachers like to think that the whole church service revolves around them. (Song leaders may have the same tendency). Leaving aside preachers’ egos, there is no doubt that preaching the Scriptures at Christian gatherings is of vital importance. So it is crucial that we get it right. Overlong and tedious academic lectures will not get it right. Nor will joke-filled inspirational pep talks get it right.
The preacher is to be concerned with two hearts. One is the broken heart of humanity, of which he or she is part. Lose sight of that, and preaching becomes disconnected from real life. The preacher is seen as somehow above the frailties of the human race. Or the preacher sees the congregation as mere chess pieces for his or her grand designs of ministry. The preacher is to face the brokenness of both preacher and people even as the preacher seeks to point them to something even greater.
And that ‘something greater’ is the other heart: the loving heart of a gracious God expressed in Jesus. Lose sight of that and preaching becomes an exercise in mutual despair or futile pop psychology. Brokenness of humanity is to be put into the context of a God who has come to bind up the broken-hearted.
That wonderful Christian novelist Marilynne Robinson, has one character in one of her novels speak thus of the preacher: “He stood straight and strong, parsing the broken heart of humankind and praising the loving heart of Christ.”
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