Introduction To Preaching
| Friends in Christ::
Please listen to me when I preach. I care what happens to you. To be honest with you, I was not always so concerned with what happened to you. When I first met you, I thought some of you were a pain in the neck. But the Lord had entrusted to me your spiritual care. This responsibility made me complain to God. I said, “How am I to care for all these obstinate people some of whom seem rather obtuse. Try as I may, I doubt if I can reach them. Actually I was wondering if anybody can reach them. I am not wondering about all but some.
The Lord responded customarily. He came in a silence without words but in my mind I knew His words. He said, “Look at it this way. It is as if I am giving you children. Children are wonderful gifts. You say that you do not want children, but I say that I give the children to you anyway. They will be good for you and you will be good for them. Then you complain, “I am being used. These are not my biological children.”
Then the Lord continued: “That is true, but that is very small minded. . These are your spiritual children. Your calling is higher than biological parenthood. A goat, an animal can have biological offspring. Only humans with immortal souls need spiritual care. You must see to the children’s spiritual care”
So I took the children. What else could I do? An argument with the Lord may be therapeutic, but it doesn’t change things much. In working with the children, I found it to be cute and appealing. The responsibility for them disciplined me. I learned to love the children in spite of myself. I learned that we are all disciplined best by innocence. Children are innocent. That is their charm. The trust the children give comes through their innocence and need. Children accept you whatever way you are. And you accept them. Then trust grows. And with trust a great deal that is positive is possible.
So it is with God. His is aware of our defects, but His love is as innocent and accepting as a child’s. God finds us delightful and takes great pleasure in us as any parent does with one of his children. A father learns to love his child. He may run to the child when the parents sees the child coming.
Do you not remember the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32.? When his father saw him, he went running to him. In re-uniting with each other, they found delight moments .Their unhappy history was over. Thats the way it is with God. That’s why Jesus gave us that parable. When we meet God, we make with Him a spiritual unity as a parent and a child. In that unity our natures are satisfied and happy.
After I got to know you, and shared your life with you, and you shared mine with me, I began to think of you as children in the Spirit. I have baptized your children. I have buried the dead. I have performed your marriages. I have been taken by your shy ways as I went about my spiritual care. I’ve gotten to know you and value you.
So listen to me as I talk to you. I am not trying to preach at you, but talk with you with reason, intelligence and honesty about God and what is desirable to Him. You see not only do I care, but there are worthwhile things that need to be said that all of you need to hear and think through. You never have to agree with me, but sometimes you will. REMEMBER, remember always, it is not unanimity of intellect, but unanimity of love that holds the church together. You are everyone, “lord of your own conscience.” As such you are the Lords Of The Congregation: noble thinking, Bible-reading, free and in a Covenant or social contract to act together. Do not fear or flatter flesh, but stand by your conscience as you, under grace, have thought issues through.
What I know, I know, not because I am superior, but through grace. We may go to secular universities, so much of that often amounts to degrees in chasing rainbows and years of following wild geese. We really begin to learn when we get into life, to be schooled by grace. It is true I am not big enough for grace. No person is. Grace is wideness in God’s mercy which is wider than the sea. I am only one person thriving in the light of grace and spiritually blessed by its warmth. But still, “by the grace of God l am what l am” (I Corinthians 15:10) and through grace I have experienced God, and by grace I know what I know. When I suggest you “think on these” (Philippians 4:8) you might do so, but look not to me. I do not preach as a purposeless man. My hope is I may point you to God that you may meet God, or if you know Him already, that you learn more of Him.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.