|Volume 23 Number 6 June 2021
Don’t Preach to Me
Cecil May, Jr.
Preaching gets a bad rap in the population at large. Along with product advertising and political speech, except for those who already believe, people typically listen to preaching with suspicion or just disregard it altogether. Some of the negative attitudes toward preaching are well-founded (e.g., reactions to some television evangelists).
Some preachers counter negative reaction to preaching by trying to sound like they are not preaching. Instead of proclamation or exhortation and rebuke, they share reflections and musings. This is weak preaching of the wrong sort. The apostle Paul’s preaching “in weakness and fear” was a renunciation of rhetorical eloquence (“lofty speech”) and theological speculation (“wisdom”). It was a simple, straightforward proclamation of Jesus Christ, crucified and raised!
Rejected as a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks, the preaching of the cross is nevertheless declared to be both the power and wisdom of God. “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:22-24).
Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid, #2
Death ends all opportunity. This life is our one and only opportunity to live and act in view of eternity. God wants us to fear Him. Solomon said fear is the “beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). If we can start with this perspective of God, the knowledge obtained from that point on will be properly “filtered.”
No one is going to escape facing God on Judgment Day (Revelation 20:11-15). Those who had a healthy fear of God and operated out of that fear (obeying God) will have nothing about which to be concerned.
Evildoers ought to “Be afraid. Be very afraid!” This kind of fear is a genuine attitude for one to have toward God. There is nothing frivolous about this kind of fear. Nobody wants the kind of fear that equates to horror, but the godly fear – which is reverence – is productive.