I'm sorry to do this, but I need to rant.
I recently heard a sermon (if that's what you want to call it, I think the church refered to it as a "message"). It was heart-breaking (and pretty boring!). It was on money and how to make big money decisions. The guy who preached is a veteran pastor of 25 years and has recently accepted a full time position at a seminary as a professor of Theology. If anyone should be able to bring a solid sermon, it's this man. Sadly, the sermon was more about his own family's financial situation than the Gospel. I learned a few things from him, like how much his shirt cost, how much he gave his daughter as a wedding budget, and how much of a pay cut he took to be a seminary professor. While he did have a three point sermon, as all good sermons should be, it was really only the last point that had anything to do with Jesus. He talked, all too briefly, about the way Jesus brings a new perspective on money. He reflected on Zacchaeus in Luke 19:2-10 and how he gave away so much, even though Jesus didn't ask him to. Ok... I can follow that. Jesus does transform the way we view money. But that needs to be unpacked a whole bunch more. What does the Bible say about posessions in general? What about poverty? What does God command His people to do with the poor? Don't just brush over these issues! I thought about how this sermon might sound to Christians in the third world. I thought about how this might sound to rich Christians. And more than anything, I sat there in the church, crying inside for the Gospel. I am in need of the Gospel. I crave it. (and will probably need to go online to find it). There is not a person who walks this earth who doesn't need to hear it. Oh Church, where are your preachers?
While my BA in Communication Studies gave me a great appreciation for a great public speaker, and I think any pastor should take seriously the manner in which he shares the Word, there is something of even greater importance than good illustrations and clear outlines. Maybe Westminster ruined me, making me believe that the Gospel must be central to call things. That sermons should be expositional, and only rarely topical. That the idea that Christ is center of all things, "Christotelic" for you nerds out there. Oh WEstminster, how you have ruined me. But it isn't just WEstminster that ruined me. It was the past 6 years of good preaching. In some circles, the term "administration of the Word" floats around, reminding us that preaching is more than a pep talk, so much more than three easy ways to get out of debt. Indeed, the purpose driven person, going to the purpose driven church, living out a purpose driven life, better not forget that it is in Christ that we have our way and our being, and that the righteousness of our lives is to be a reaction to what God has already done through the cross. Oh Church, where are your preachers?
How can Christians live if they are not being fed on the Word of God? How can communities go out and preach Christ crucified, risen, and coming again if we don't hear it ourselves. Oh preachers, take not lightly the task before you! You have been bestowed with the greatest honor of all. We beg you to preach the Word, tell us about Christ. Yeah sure, you can tell us how His life, death, and resurrection will transform the way we spend our money. But please don't give us flimsy lists of good values to have in life. We need more! We need Christ. Don't you see? If our lives go south, think of the story of Job, where will we turn? Surely not the great little common sense values that you have been giving us. No, it will be on nothing less than Christ and His Righteousness.
Oh Lord Jesus, make us bold in Your Word!