Our Great Temptation

One of the greatest temptations preachers face is not to teach hell fire and obedience. Neither is it necessarily to preach a grace that does not lead to and is devoid of obedience. Some might argue that it is to preach an individualistic gospel without any repurcutions for our corporate living. Others might say that it is to totally ignore individual piety as an important category for theological reflection.

Preaching What People Want to Hear

However, I think that our greatest temptation as preachers is to simply preach that which the people want to hear. Please do not misunderstand. Many of us find ourselves in churches and contexts that believe in railing against certain sins. These certain sins may be different depedening on the context. For example, in some churches the preacher has not preached until he or she has railed against smoking and drinking. In those contexts the preacher may have the misconception that she or he is preaching the straight testimony when preaching against these habits. The people, in these churches, love this. Part of the reason they loves this, however, is that they have no such issue with these particular vices. So the preacher is “hard-core” even though she or he has not addressed the congregation.

Some of us find ourselves in congregations where paradoxically it is easy to talk against “hypocrites” in the church. It is funny that sometimes the folks shouting the loudest are the ones who are guilty of this particular sin. Here the preacher is playing his or her role and the people love it. The message is separate from them and never made to touch them.

Some of us find ourselves in congregations that the only thing that is desired is things that prop up our “assurance of salvation.” Sometimes preachers in this context will preach about how “you may not wanna hear it, but God has given you this assurance.” Certainly there is a time for such a message, but when it is preached to those who expect it and who are in desparate need for ethical training for the saved, such preaching is easy and leaves people without the next step.

God’s Word Confronts

It is easy to preach what the people want to hear, whatever that is. But the prophetic gospel confronts us with Grace when we wanted to hear law so desperately. It prods us with law when we want an indulgent Santa-Clause for God. It teaches us of our corporate responsibilities when we just want to hear about a “personal relationship with Jesus.” It shocks us with personal piety, when we only want the preacher to tell us about relieving social pain in the world. In short, the message that God has given us to preach is about change and transformation. Not just about changing the other guy, or even changing us, but about changing our own desires about what the Gospel will do.

The Message Should Shock You

If the implications of the message that you are preaching does not surprise you every so often, if it does not shock you at times, if it does not wake you up out of your sleeping, then you need to go back to the text and find out what God is really saying rather than what the Status-Quo in your church is saying. Stop giving the people warmed over pablum and calling it meat. Start preaching the transforming message of a coming kingdom. The people may get mad, but “when we’ve been there 10,000 years, they will be happy somebody told them the truth.

Comments

comments

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

Posted in blog, Homiletic Theory, Preaching
4 comments on “Our Great Temptation
  1. This is an interesting article. I agree with the writer, Sherman Cox, and his analysis. I agree that when preacher are trying to build their own kingdom instead of the kingdom of God then the gospel isn’t preached. One observation that God has given me is that preachers who focus on prophecy instead of standing within the prophetic tradition are still trying to control their own destiny. God’s Word isn’t suppose to give us that fuzzy feeling, but, it’s designed to set us free. To move us to where God wants us to be so that He can effectively use us to and for His glory. The living Word of God is suppose to transform us into citizens of the kingdom of God not to live according to the standards of this world, but, God’s kingdom. The living Word steps into our reality and causes us to see ourselves as God sees us, one, needing a Savior, Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, many preachers are enemies of the cross and as a result Christ isn’t being lifted up, glorified, setting captives free and as a result in essence you have the blind leading the blind. The preacher must remember that Christ is the preacher and we’re the vessal used by God to communicate His unadulterated gospel.

  2. Carial Gilbert says:

    Very interesting. I have to agree with the writer. Most preachers had result to entertainment,than preaching God’s Word. I think many preachers and the people they preach to had gotten hung up on the entertainment themselves. So, if the preacher do not perform or entertain, the preacher as well as the people do not find that enjoyable. What has been forgotten is souls are in jeopardy,the word of God must come forth. If you never get a pat on the back or make some screen, that is fine as long as you are preaching God’s Word. We have a job to do, the message is real, and design that every one in christ can grow and be effective on this christian journey.

    As Apostle Paul, wrote in Epesians, given the reason of the importance of getting the truth to all christian and to know why you are call.

    The Word of God for the people of God.

    8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

    11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

    12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

    13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:

    14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

    15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
    Eph 4:8-15 (KJV)

  3. MIn. Claude Hall says:

    Usually there are 3 major temptaions and they are money,women,and conforming to what everybody else is doing.but as a God called preaher you have remember 3 things.The first is that God called you,the second is that money will be your downfall,God doesn’t have a problem with you having money,but he does have a problem with you putting it first and you doing anything ti acqire it.The third is woney will cause a serious problem to you ministry,and it is not even worth it.So to be a successful preacher of the Gospel always remember God can make you or God can break you.

  4. James Owens says:

    This is so true. It takes alot of backbone and special prayer to preach according to God’s will these days. Alot of churches seem to love soft moaning and groaning preaching more. Telling the truth is called “bashing”. But all grace and no justice does not give us the experience of true grace. Grace without justice is like a flame without fire. God is calling us to preach both for they both uplift Jesus! Pastor Owens.

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Revised Common Lectionary
Proper 14 (February 26, 2017)
  • OT: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
  • Psalm: Psalm 105: 1-6, 16-22, 45b
  • Epistle: Romans 10:5-15
  • Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33
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