Home Voices 20 Truths From ‘Preaching to a Divided Nation’

20 Truths From ‘Preaching to a Divided Nation’

“Ultimately, the Church’s reconciling mission must be rooted in proclaiming the cross of Jesus and grounded in the tenacious and practical love we corporately share in the Spirit (Col. 1:8). Thus, when it comes to preaching reconciliation, we must preach Christ—he is our mandate. And to preach Christ properly, we must ensure we live in him and for him, concretely, now and together.” (37) 

“When preachers lack emotional intelligence, their sermons lack empathy for those who sit silently and listen (despite their feelings and emotional state being unacknowledged). Sermons that are primarily left-brained, cognitive, linear or lecture-styled, and express little consideration of the preacher’s or listeners’ emotional state or relational context, indicate a low EQ.” (47) 

“Preaching is an art and a craft, a multidisciplinary task that requires some measure of dexterity in numerous disciplines: biblical exegesis, biblical theology, systematic theology, church history, counseling, psychology, anthropology, sociology, cultural exegesis, communication, and more. For this reason, the astute preacher cultivates skills not only in scriptural interpretation but also with regard to cultural intelligence, emotional/relational intelligence, and historical intelligence.” (51) 

“A major contributor to the cycle of systemic sin in our nation stems from existing educational, pedagogical, and scholarly structures. We must ask, Who’s writing the history? Who controls the narrative? Whose perspective on history are we receiving, and is it a balanced and others-encompassing retelling of historic events? ” (52-3)

“The misuse of Scripture is a sign and demonstration of promoting nationalism over Christian orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Those who have bought into hypernationalism may commit similar sins of proclamation from the pulpit. Preaching to a divided nation means speaking truth to power and addressing hypernationalistic and ethnocentric tendencies.” (58) 

“Living to promote one issue, one doctrine, one belief, one ideology has led us to poison and denigrate ourselves. Rather than uniting around our common faith in the person and work of Jesus, we have partitioned ourselves over biblical, theological, and cultural minutiae.” (61) 

“The composition of this new community, birthed and constituted through the Spirit, must not be overlooked. At its core, it exists to be a reconciling and united—yet still diverse—family that reflects the glory of the triune God. On the other hand, the church is also a subversive, alternate society because it reveals the reigning values of heaven, and not those of a temporary, fallen world.” (96) 

“Here’s the bottom line: preaching marked by unction will function as a double-edged sword. On one hand, it often reaps transformation; on the other hand, confronting abusive authorities and unjust powers may arouse hostility, as any perceived provocation is received as a threat that must be extinguished.” (103) 

“In our hyper-individualistic culture, shared identities may not mean as much as they would in a collectivistic culture. Drawing from our Western, individualistic experience in American evangelical culture, we tend to focus on me over we: e.g., ‘I am a child of God’ rather than “We are God’s children.” However, one vital implication of Christians’ new identity is that it is a profoundly social or communal identity.” (123) 

“Scrolling through social media these days, it’s quite easy for us to quickly dismiss others and their viewpoints. The sins of self-righteousness and pride loom large in short sound bites and jabbing tweets, especially among self-professing Christians. To demonize others instantly without knowing anything about them and their lives is the skill set of the day.” (133) 

“The church will do better if Christians gravitate away from meanness toward kindness. Meanness is not the way of Christ and yet it’s evident everywhere we look. It’s an ingrained and socially acceptable character trait. We have come to expect people to be mean toward each other; it no longer shocks us. Meanness is embodied even in the church. Some of the meanest people we know are professing Christians.” 

“[T]he general principle for preaching on divisive issues is to begin the sermon with what unites us rather than what divides us. Start with the centered set(s) of doctrines, identities, mission, and experiences and then open the listeners’ hearts to acknowledge the differences and preferences that can be stumbling blocks to unity.” (159) 

“The richest, most vibrant forms of unity emerge from God’s love. Through his son, Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Spirit, God the Father showers his children with affection, attention, joy, and delight (Zeph. 3:17). This love purifies us and thus liberates us from insecurity, fear, selfishness, prejudice, and exclusion. God’s holy ardor captures and captivates, and when his people bask in its magnificence, it dispels all resentments and dissipates all antipathies.” (178) 

Matthew Kim and Paul Hoffman, “Preaching to a Divided Nation,” Baker Academic, a division of Baker Publishing Group; http://www.bakerpublishinggroup.com. Copyright 2022. Used by permission.