Tuesday, June 5, 2012
In Spite of the Preacher
Genesis 11:6-7 (ESV)
6 And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.”
Acts 2:7-12 (ESV)
7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans?
8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”
Often someone tells me of something I have said in a sermon that I never said. That is not always good. Sometimes they tell me that I have espoused a heresy. Sometimes they tell me something so profound, so godly, that I wished I had said it. The two biblical events mentioned above help me understand where the understanding comes from.
I can expect that some people will be confused when I speak ungodly things. I wish I could say that every sermon I have preached has come straight from the heart of God. I have never consciously tried to say something I didn't think was godly during my sermons but I have done so without thinking. These words came from my fallen condition; out of my fallen heart. I wish everyone would walk out confused rather than take what I have said as God's word when this happens. I hope they have godly discernment when listening.
Lately, I have been asking-no, pleading with God- to be filled with the Holy Spirit before preaching. I know I should ask for this at other times but the need to convey a message from God is paramount in my life. Preaching is the time I have the greatest opportunity to introduce people to God's word. It is then that I have to have my mind completely set on the things of the Spirit if I am to have the power of the Spirit's delivery. It is then that I must humble myself to wanting what He wants so that I might see what He wants in me and through me.
An astonishing thing is happening. I am seeing more people asking how they might come to know Christ. They are doing so even though my sermons haven't been evangelistic. I tell them of the Christ I know and they are asking how they can know Him too. They are hearing the path to the Lord without my own words truly explaining it to them.
I know that I am not the most amazing preacher but I am hearing people tell me things I have said that I never really said. God is putting the things He wants them to hear in their language. He does that in spite of the preacher sometimes.