Monday, August 27, 2007

THE FOOLISHNESS OF PREACHING

The word "preach" may be one word in English but it sure translates into that one word from a variety of words in the Greek. But for my purpose one word in the Greek is basic and it is the word "kerux." It was used several ways in Ancient times. The "kerux" was a bearer of a message that originated from someone with authority and that authoritative message was taken to others. Say this was done on a battlefield...the messenger was the "kerux" [preacher] and the "kerugma" was the message. The hearers of the message would then accept or reject the message.

This is the biblical picture of what we do on any given Sunday in our churches. We preach. It isn't our message. It isn't our authority. It isn't our results. It is simply the "kerux" [preacher] delivering the "kerugma" [message] through the act of "kerusa." [the verb for the act of preaching] Sounds simple enough right?

There is nothing simple about it. All three aspects are of vital importance. In the next few posts I'm going to address each aspect separately for brevity and emphasis. Today our message.

Our message is certainly Christ and Him crucufied as clearly shown in 1 Corinthians 1:23. In a broader context of that gospel message it is all of scripture since all scripture is profitible for people to understand that gospel message. [11Tim 3:16]

I just finished reading an article that dealt with the "theraputic" nature of our "preaching." It didn't fit my taste buds at first but, I have to admit, the more I read and thought, the more I had to say..."there is something here."

Biblical preaching IS theraputic because biblical preaching delivers a healing message to hurting people. While the hurt is not in the disease category [with repects to the health and wealth folks] it is certainly in the disaster category. The problems our hearers on any given Sunday are facing are myriad and devastating to say the least. Most of our hearers are broken over those problems. Whether it is a loved one just lost to death, a teen lost to rebellion, a spouse lost to another person, health lost to a cancer cell, or the run of the mill person who happened in to hear us and is still in the grip of the sin nature and has not as yet found that repentence that is so necessary to the opening of the doors of help, the hearers of the message we deliver are hurting people. To top it off, Peter Lord used to say quite often in his teaching that little statement that carries so much validity "hurt people hurt people." So we wind up addressing folks who are hurt and, in the process, wind up hurting others.

The key to any real healing according to one medical report I recently read is the word "hope." Since the words "health and healing" come from the same root words as do "whole and holy" you would know whatever gives a person some sense of hope that things can be made whole would be a welcome message. It is certainly true that we preachers [kerux] have the message [kerugma] that is the only "hope" for the bringing to healthiness anyone in the "dark night of the soul" and it is these very people, remember, whose attention we have for those precious few moments on any given Sunday. Our message, then, must never fail to deliver the goods on that thing called "hope." That is the essence of what has been given to us to be delivered to others.

Sad to say, the preaching done in our modern times seems to fall way short of that. Why? Why is it that those who hurt go away from hearing us preach with a greater sense of pain? Why is our preaching so inept and powerless today in bringing hope? Why is it that so many hearers of preaching today have such a small desire to return the next Sunday for more? Why has preaching taken on such a derisive shade of color that the phrase "don't preach at me" is the greatest insult you can deliver to one attempting to communicate to you. Where have all the preachers gone [sounds like a song] who moved multitudes to repentence because it was their only "hope" and why is there so little healing happening in the lives of our hearers in that Sunday moment when we have their attention?

That will lead us into our next time when we deal with the messenger. You see...I'm convinced the messenger is often getting in the way of the message and may be our biggest problem. Preaching has always been recognized as a foolish thing as seen in 1 Corinthians 1:18 but history is filled with occasions when those who declare it to be a foolish thing were nonetheless in awe of real preaching of the real message and were moved to hopefulness concerning the devastation of their own lives. What has become of those days?

That's another word for another day.

Paul Burleson

7 comments:

Alycelee said...

Paul, I've not been posting, commenting or even much lurking of late.
I ask our pastor yesterday how long it had been since we have been meeting as a group to pray for revival and renewal. We started right after the first of the year. There is a Monday night group, a Tuesday night group, an early Sunday group and yesterday found that another prayer group is beginning this Thursday.

It seems during this time, all I can wrap my head (and heart) around is praying, yes hoping with great expectation that God is moving in our midst and He is.

Your comment about bringing 'hope' is what got me.
Friendship is full of hope these days.
We can wait for you to arrive and speak to us.
Agape
Alyce

Steve Miller said...

Brother Paul,

Recently our church had Richard Owen Roberts share in both morning services. I am not sure you know brother Roberts but he is know doubt a prophet in the motivational gift and a preacher in the ministry gift. He is 76 years old, the message was on the church truly being the house of prayer and not just a place where prayer exists. His message was most definetly a "thus saith the Lord". I am continually amazed how the message of God delivered through a moral agent unashamedly and with conviction brings results not void and brings honor to His name. The message was in response to despair in the church but ignited hope in the people. Equally amazing was when God truly speaks and ears hear, then neither time nor the messenger got in the way. We, as a church, two weeks later still discuss the impact of the message because of its lasting relevance. The real message of hope does last. Thanks for your timely sharing of hope. Regards

Steve in San Antonio

Paul Burleson said...

Alyce,

I'm excited about being with you guys at Friendship. My prayer is that the message of Hope WILL be preached and heard. It's good to hear from you.


Steve,

Your statement "neither time nor the messenger got in the way" is what I'm going to look at next. The messenger DOES often get in the way. We will see how and why in my next post. Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed the article, Dad. I got to share a few words with a group at the nursing home from Col 1 - the great mystery of all ages is finally revealed - CHRIST IN YOU. Afterwards a couple of the ladies commented that they enjoyed this new "preacher" LOVED IT!!! Maybe a little of the HOPE came through.

Thank you, DAD!!!

Cherri

Paul Burleson said...

Cherri,

I hope there were no men in your congregation when you preached...err...shared that message. You know Mom and I have taught you as our daughter better than that. At least I hope you thought ahead and had Mike there so you could be "covered" adequately when you spoke of what scripture means when speaking to a mixed group. LOL.

Doesn't what I've just written facetiously sound silly. I hope anyone reading my comment knows how much I believe your gifts and abilities, which are many, are to be used sharing the truth of Scriptures with any who will hear. You do it often and you do it well. Way to go.

By the way, Mike does it well too. :)

Lee said...

Yesterday, I had the rare opportunity to preach in our church, in the absence of our pastor. I had read your blog earlier, and as a result, spent time in prayer asking God to get the messenger out of the way, and let the message be the focus.

Thank you.

Paul Burleson said...

Lee,

What I know of you personally makes me not the least surprised that you would truly desire that for which you prayed.

Your comment, which I have just now read, is a perfect segue into the post I just sat down this minute to write. It will simply be a practical viewpoint of what is necessary to be out of the way of the message we deliver. Thanks.