Monday, February 3, 2020

Without Contradiction

When Paul writes to the Galatian church, he says plainly that he preaches the best that he knows how. He attempts to be true to the Gospel and to preach the grace and love of Christ as it has been revealed to him. But he also says something interesting. 

He says that even the angels should not be able to contradict him. 

That's the kind of preaching we're shooting for.

Now, that raises a lot of questions. Because what do we know about the angels? Well, from the New Testament, we know that the angels gather around the throne of the Lamb as a heavenly host and sing, holy, holy, holy. We know that in the Old Testament, they came to scout out the land and deliver messages from God to His people. We know that in both testaments, they came bearing good news and cluing in humanity on what God was going to do for them and through them. 

For the longest time, these were the things that guided our preaching - the glory of God, the presence of God, and the promise of God. Preach these things, along with the grace and love of Christ, and you've got a message that not even the angels can argue with. And the implication is that they're the ones who know. 

So what has our preaching come to? Because I'm listening to a lot of sermons and hearing stories about church services and...these aren't the big three any more. In some churches, they don't even make the top ten. In some others, not even the top twenty. 

Today, our churches are talking about why we tithe and how we should serve and there are churches preaching on contemporary movies and classic literature and everything in between. There are sermons about sex, about sin, about politics. We're talking about being "fans" of God or "following" Him. A lot of our sermons today focus on who we are and what we're doing and what we should be doing and maybe why ("because God is good"), but our sermons don't preach our God any more; they preach our lives, and we're supposed to fill in the blanks about God for ourselves. 

Maybe that's why it's so easy to walk away from the faith now. Maybe that's why we can't get persons to stay in our churches. Maybe that's why the world says we don't even really need our Sundays. If all we're doing with them is talking about how to be good people, we've got all week for that. Everyone is doing that, church or no church. Almost everyone wants to be a good person. Almost everyone aims to live a better life. 

It makes you wonder what the angels would preach if they came to our churches. What would they say that we're not? Where would they contradict us? Because wherever that is, that's what we're getting wrong. 

It makes you wonder what would happen if we'd go back to this kind of preaching, if we'd just stick to the big three and the Gospel and go with that. What if the world heard from us exactly what the angels are singing - the glory of God, the presence of God, the promise of God, grace, and love? 

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