A wise old man in my former church was famous locally for saying, “I don’t understand all I know about that.” When you think about it, that makes perfect sense. All of us know about many things we don’t fully understand. Consequently, we can sympathize with Agur when he confessed, “There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a maiden” (Prov. 30:18-19).
Like that wise man, we all know about eagles, snakes, ships and courting couples; but there are things about them we do not completely understand; and what we do not understand, we fail to appreciate as much as we might otherwise.
If Agur had lived in our day, I wonder if his list of four imponderables would have remained the same. What in our age might he have found fascinating but beyond comprehension? If he was anything like the majority of us, he may have mentioned the way of a man with a computer and Internet connection.
The Web is a fascinating thing, and it grows by the hour! Back when I was beginning my doctoral studies in the late ’90s, I performed a search for “Haddon Robinson.” (Remember when you had to include the quotation marks?) That query generated 48 hits. When I Googled that same name a moment ago without quotation marks it produced 1.63 million results in two-tenths of a second. I don’t understand all I know about that! The sheer volume of information available online is staggering to me.
YouTube reports that 48 hours of video are uploaded there every minute, resulting in approximately eight years of content uploaded daily. Those videos range from inane to profound, from humorous to tragic. A preacher does not need to understand everything about YouTube or the Internet to profit from its use.
No matter how much of a foreigner one feels when surfing the Web, there are preaching treasures to be discovered there. As a preacher and teacher of homiletics, I suggest using the sermons found on YouTube to help a preacher in the following ways.
Feed Your Faith
Paul touted the value of preaching for faith when he declared, “faith comes by hearing” (Rom. 10:17). The spoken word impacts us in ways the written word does not. If communication experts are correct, words spoken before our own eyes are more impactful. They claim that 86 percent of communication is nonverbal.
We all need to see and hear the Word preached by others. If not, Paul could have saved himself a lot of trouble by remaining in Tarsus and relying solely on a correspondence ministry to nurture his converts abroad. Instead, he insisted on visiting and revisiting them repeatedly. Paul sensed they needed to see his face and hear his voice.
A surgeon doesn’t keep himself healthy by operating on his own body. Why should we think a preacher can do so using only the scalpel of his own sermons? This is not to say we preachers don’t benefit from our own preaching. We certainly should! However, we are all blind to many of our personal shortcomings and needs. We don’t know what we don’t know. God can use the preaching of others through YouTube to minister to our souls.