When preachers talk about controversial hot button topics of sermons, the congregation often envisions things that are the talk of the day such as politics, homosexuality, and things of that sort. However, while preaching through the Sermon on the Mount, I was once again reminded of what I warned you about at the beginning: Jesus says hard things, and the Kingdom has never been about easy belief or easy conduct, but about denying one’s own self. That being said, I want to use this amount of space to speak about the sermon, before I actually preach it.
The hot button issue that we will be faced with this Sunday is the issue of divorce. And because that is the case I want to do 2 things: apologize and encourage.
“Why would a preacher want to apologize for preaching the Bible?” is what you are thinking. That is what I am not apologizing for. I’m apologizing for not preaching the Bible. I can imagine that every church has a long history or preachers who preached differing viewpoints on important topics. Divorce sits at the head of that list. So it is likely you’ve sat under several preachers who have not believed the same thing. For that, I am sorry. That gives the impression that the Bible isn’t meant to be understood clearly, or that God wants us to be confused and frustrated on such serious issues. I don’t believe for one moment that either of those two premises is true. To be honest, I think there are two main reasons that congregations get pulled back and forth on this issue. The first and foremost reason is due to intellectual and spiritual laziness. Some preachers don’t want to put in the study time to work through tough issues. They want to just get through this with surface level teaching that they don’t have to invest in. If a preacher is going to deal with a subject this serious (or any biblical subject for that matter) he’d better be darn sure he is ready to pray and read, A LOT. Most of the confusion is due to laziness. The other main reason is fear. Some preachers fear human backlash over divine holiness. Getting a cold shoulder, nasty emails and unsigned notes is never a delightful prospect, but what is that in comparison to hearing “Well done, My good and faithful servant”? So I apologize, and ask you to pray that I would be neither.
And I want to encourage. When Jesus taught, people often heard things that cut and wounded and sounded like a scarlet letter. But Jesus came for the purpose of grace and mercy. Christ never compromised truth and at the same time brought healing to the sinner. Christ was not a doctor who opened a person for surgery but never closed them. He revealed their sinful nature and gave them hope. That’s what I want to do.
So if you find that at any time the message seems like a dark shadow, it’s not. It’s pointing to victory found only in Jesus.
I’m actually looking forward to being with you on Sunday as we worship, and I hope you are too