“Lord, do you know the Pharisees were offended by your sermon?” Matthew 15:12
Let me say up front that no church can long endure a steady diet of negative preaching. No Christian, no matter how faithful, can withstand an unending barrage of sermons directed toward straightening them out. On a regular basis, we need messages reminding us we are loved, God is faithful, Heaven awaits and there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
But sometimes the minister enters the pulpit with a burdensome task: to attempt a diagnosis, surgery and amputation all in a 25-minute message. At those times, the sermon must cut deeply.
At those times, the message hurts.
How the Lord’s people ever came to expect their pastors to declare the riches of His Word without offending wrong-doers is beyond me.
It cannot be done.
“Offenders will take offense.” Remember that. As columnist Dear Abby put it, “You throw a rock in among a bunch of dogs. The one that hollers got hit.”
Delivering the commands of Scripture on how to live and think, how to re-prioritize our lives and change our behavior, and bring every detail of our existence under the Lordship of Jesus Christ without treading on anyone’s toes is expecting a little much of the preacher.
George Whitefield, the great British preacher of the 18th century, gave us an unforgettable line on this …
“It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.”
We preachers are a strange lot.
We will know this—that preaching is supposed to challenge the status quo and disturb the complacent and upset the pretentions of the hypocritical—and then turn around and feel like a failure when someone gets mad at us for doing it well.
“Where did I fail? Someone is angry with me!”
What a crybaby.
C’mon, warrior. Gird up your loins. Be strong in the Lord.
The deacon had no appointment because this urgent matter had robbed him of sleep through the night and surely demanded the preacher’s immediate attention.
“Pastor, that sermon yesterday.”
“Yes. The one on materialism.”