Many call for practical sermons. I have made the same call on occasion. However, the term “practical sermons” means different things to different people. For example, some preachers use the term to mean sermons that give people life skills to help them live in this world. These sermons would address such important things as becoming a better employee or entrepreneur. Other sermons might be how to overcome racism and sexism to break through the glass ceiling that “the enemy” wants to use to block you from your God given destiny of prosperity, health, and wealth (certainly you have read enough of my work to know I have great problems with such a presentation…but I digress…).
Certainly, if you apply the principles of this very practical sermon you will no doubt be better equipped to move ahead in your job. Certainly, there is a time to learn how to be a good worker or know when it is time to move to another job. But, I seriously question whether the morning sermon during the worship service is the right time or location. On another note, I wonder if the preacher is the right one to give that kind of training in many instances.
This kind of preaching places a disconnect between the way we live during the week and the way we are called to live as Christians. This kind of preaching makes it too easy to be comfortable in political parties when both should offend our prophetic tendencies from time to time. This kind of preaching makes it too easy for us to preach about “turning the other cheek” on Sunday morning but bash in cheeks every other day of the week. It makes it too easy to give grace and forgiveness to the perpetrators of wars based on lies while condemning the two-bit criminal robbing the 7-11. Or vice-versa depending on our political tendencies.
Yes the practical preaching proponent is right in the desire to allow God’s principles to invade every area of our lives, but the Spiritual preaching proponent is right that the spiritual aspects of the coming kingdom must take center stage in our lives.
So what do we do? We preach God’s kingdom. We preach what it means to live in that Kingdom. We preach the ethical demands on those of us who are citizens in that kingdom. We preach how to become citizens of that kingdom. We preach how to live as ambassadors of that coming kingdom in this world.
Certainly living as a member of God’s Kingdom has relevance to life down here. Being a good citizen of God’s kingdom in many cases means that we will be a good worker at work. It means we will be a good steward of God’s blessings. It does mean that we will do our duty down here. So the practical side will be taken care of. But also the spiritual side will be addressed as this is the fuel that empowers our living.
Great preaching is about living in that coming Kingdom. Let us be true to it and true to our God. Leave the surface self-help messages to the personal development gurus and television preachers. On the other hand, don’t preach a “gettin to heaven” sermon that has no relevance for living in this world. Go head on and preach God’s Coming Kingdom and watch as the gates of hell begin to fall in its face.