Tact and Preaching: The Double Edged Sword

I was having a conversation with my wife about three years ago regarding some of the thoughts and words that I was planning on using for a weekend sermon. I have been “accused” of being too direct, too passionate and to brash in the way that I communicate what I read in the Bible. I am still not sure how to take these comments even after having heard them several times over the last few years.

I want to share some of the thoughts that come to my mind when I hear these kinds of comments.

  1. How can I be too passionate about being a Christian?
  2. What bible are you reading when the brashness of the text does not strike you? (i.e., Romans 9:3, where Paul suggests that if it were possible, he would go to hell so that his countrymen might come to know salvation in Jesus. I don’t know how to make that sound nice!)
  3. Why do people keep praying to know God’s will when the Bible IS God’s will, and they’re not doing that yet?
  4. Why do some people get mad at me (who has read the bible) and argue about what it says when they have no basis for what they are saying, thinking, doing or wanting? It is pretty easy to know who has and who hasn’t been reading their Bible.

It’s things like this and a few others that just drive me nuts. My wife said that I just sounded angry. Well, to a certain extent I am.

Being a Christian is not a popularity contest.

I am angry about a church that claims to be obedient, but is not. I am angry about a person who claims to be a disciple of Jesus, and has never made one. I am mad about pastors that preach from the word, but for whatever reason, fail to preach the word itself. I know that this does not apply to everybody directly. This is definitely a generalization, but its true enough that most of us would have to agree to some degree. What scares me about this whole situation in the church is that there is not enough (in my opinion) concern about the direction of the church.

We are far too concerned with what the world thinks about us, rather than what God has commanded for us to do. Being a Christian is not a popularity contest. It is about conviction. As a member of the church, I find it concerning that the church wants to hold hands with the world and agree. The direction of influence must begin in the church and move out from there, and not the other way around.

Sure, we can go to conferences and get the pep talks and hear from the celebrity pastor or speaker, but what am I, the executive pastor of a growing, city church supposed to do? Many times I leave with a second wind in my sails, but with no clear sense of direction of what to do next.

The truth is not always palatable, especially when it calls us to holiness and difficult choices regarding how we live.

Is the truth supposed to be palatable, easy, comfortable or sensible? I just do not see that as I read the bible.

The truth is not always palatable, especially when it calls us to holiness and difficult choices regarding how we live. The truth is not easy, particularly when it challenges the assumptions that we hold onto so dearly. The truth is not comfortable because it forces us to change those parts of our lives that we may love, but are not in line with God’s plan or will. The truth is not sensible! My goodness, if the Gospel made sense everybody would be jumping on board. But, that is exactly what Paul said. The Gospel is foolishness. It is foolishness to who? To those who are perishing.

The balm of the Gospel is what brings healing through transformation. For some of us, that means we will have to endure some difficulties. We will have to address those areas of our lives that are not conforming to the image of Jesus. I want to see less tact and more truth. Less compromise and more conviction. Less concern for the world’s feelings and more consideration for the heart of God. Until then, we will tip-toe around the issues and continue to see the erosion of the churches influence with our neighbors.

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