Recovering Preaching from Mere Adequacy
- Thursday, March 17, 2011
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Third, Haggai and Zechariah preached to specific situations with specific instructions as to how the people should respond. The immediate task at hand was the building of the temple, and these two preachers called the people to take up this work with all diligence and to stay on task until the job was done. As it turns out, the end product of their labors was not very impressive, particularly when compared with the temple Solomon had constructed. But this humble achievement was what God had called them to fulfill in their generation, and it would prove to be an important part of His larger plan for Israel and the nations.
Fourth, their preaching was visionary. The preachers who moved complacent Israel to action set their teaching in the context of the grand vision of God's unfolding plan for His people, a vision in which the whole earth and all peoples were to be caught up in the redemptive work of God. The people were not just building a temple; they were preparing a stage for the glory of God and the delight of the nations to be established on earth, as it is in heaven.
Finally, their preaching was covenantal and redemptive. They pointed forward to the coming day of God's redemption and the full realization of His covenant promises. They wanted the people to know how much God had in store for them, and that the full blessings He intended for them would be had only in His work of redemption. A Sin-bearer was coming, the Shepherd of Israel, the Glory of the Lord, who would spoil the ancient foes of Israel and, in spite of His being pierced, bring them into the fullness of God's love and plan. The people of their day must show their zeal for God's work of redemption and for the future enjoyment of all His blessings by taking up the work that was immediately before them and carrying it out in their generation. Thus they would know redemption in the present and ensure, by faithful obedience, their participation in its future fullness.
Preaching may seem foolish to a generation steeped in high-tech entertainment, clever comedic monologues, and spectacular imagery and sound. But preaching has always seemed foolish to those outside the pale of faith. The problem is not that preaching is foolish to unbelievers. The problem is that preaching has become foolish—through mere adequacy—to those who claim to be followers of Christ. Until this changes, and we recover preaching from mere adequacy—we will not know the motive power that Scripture proclamation can generate within the household of faith.
What are your own expectations for the preaching you hear each week? What do you expect it to do in you, for you, or through you?
T. M. Moore is dean of the Centurions Program of the Wilberforce Forum and principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He is the author or editor of 20 books, and has contributed chapters to four others. His essays, reviews, articles, papers, and poetry have appeared in dozens of national and international journals, and on a wide range of websites. His most recent books are The Ailbe Psalter and The Ground for Christian Ethics (Waxed Tablet), and Culture Matters (Brazos). He and his wife and editor, Susie, make their home in Concord, Tenn.
This article originally appeared on BreakPoint. Used with permission.
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