For all the negative diatribe spoken about preaching in our day, we must realise that it isn’t new, nor are preachers to lose heart.
Preachers mustn’t pander to so-called “short attention spans” of our high definition, graphics saturated age. Preachers are not to make the message more palatable by joke telling, or attempting to give a biblical text the wiff of relevancy by surrounding it on all sides about the wondrous examples you are experiencing that make your point so perfectly!
Not a bit of it. Preachers are the messengers. Messengers of God. Angels. Prophets. Watchmen (or women – I don’t buy Complimentarianism). Jeremiah was commanded to “Tell them what I tell you to tell them…” Likewise Ezekiel, literally, “Open your mouth and eat what I give you…” And so Moses, the prophets, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul and others.
They were messengers of the One who himself is the Message, the Word. Jesus doesn’t bring the message, because He is the Message, in a way that everyone else isn’t: We preach Christ and Him crucified. We preach the whole counsel of God. The whole Bible for the whole person in the whole world the whole time!
We do not select, pick and choose, cut and paste, add to or ignore. We don’t embellish with cute stories, nice pictures, snazzy powerpoint (God deliver us from this banality)! We preach with utmost courage because all of it is God’s Word and all the world is God’s.
Preachers are thus Watchmen. A watchman does not fall asleep when everyone else is asleep. A watchman stays awake, alert to danger, alert to mischief. Alert to everything that may or may not be going on. And when danger comes, and it will for the devil does indeed prowl around like a roaring lion – looking for people to devour – it is the duty of the watchman to raise the alarm, to fend off the danger, to proclaim a Redeemer who has conquered the lion.
The watchman must eat the book, even when people do not even think the watchman is necessary. Even if they think they can do it without the watchman, lulled into a false sense of security, they do not eat the book, the nibble the edges, the palatable bits, the familiar bits, ignoring the wideness and vastness of God’s Word, whilst consuming the familiar, embellished as it is with the odd joke and tired story.
The Bible has enough material of its own for us to use, without our trivial attempts to make it palatable. It is already relevant; it is already palatable. We need to eat it and simply be faithful proclaimers among God’s people, faithfully declaring the Word of the Lord in all its beauty and glory and majesty, in all praise and inexpressible joy, with tears and hearts open to a God who heals and saves.
So, watchmen, stay awake. Stay alert. Be faithful. Preach the whole word. It is literally a matter of life and death.