"I don't understand preaching, but I believe in it deeply." (Ian Pit-Wilson).
My recent move from a wonderful congregation in Milwaukee to a wonderful congregation in Tucson has lead me to reflect on my role as a preacher and preaching itself. Just who am I? Just what do I think I am doing? Does anyone in our age really give a rip? Over the last several weeks I have come to formulate a series of questions that perhaps can be summed up in one single question: Is preaching ... FOLLY? I have reached a "conclusion" of sorts like the grand old (wonderful) preacher of Ecclesiastes. This is my conclusion until I change my mind! Preaching is folly.
After ruminating on my life task I have identified four reasons why preaching is apparently folly. They are, in the order of importance to my mind:
1) The infinite gulf between the object of our preaching and the weakness of our lives. Is it not sheer folly for a mere mortal to stand before other mere mortals and insist he or she has a word from God? Surely the poet was speaking of preachers "Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail."
2) The infinite gulf between the holiness of God and the sinfulness of our lives. When I stop to think about the unapproachable light that my God dwells in (1 Tim 6.16), I recognize the darkness of my own "life." The temerity that must fill my veins to stand in the name of that holy God and speak, I cannot help but think this is folly.
3) The indifference of the world. This age is incredibly indifferent to preachers. Every Lord's Day a person stands and announces that the world has been redeemed and that a Man has come back from the grave ... but this age is so impressed it stays in bed!! Thus I see that compared to proclaiming effectively to my postmodern world, I am insignificant. Indeed, it would seem, foolish.
4) The inadequacy of my method and approach. That incredible message that many stay in bed not to hear is hindered by my insufficiency. Just how am I to communicate the wonderous gospel of grace? It seems that as soon as I figure out how to preach to the family ... the family has changed and I am out of touch once again. And yet, it seems, that God uses our preaching to reach and touch and bless some. Is it not folly?
But "Christ's love compels us" (2 Cor. 5.14) ... but who is equal to the task?