Sometimes, I am amazed at God’s ability with irony.
The past two weeks, I’ve been running around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off: flitting from one responsibility to the next, hardly budgeting time for personal renewal, to allow my soul to catch up with my body. This isn’t terribly new, and is certainly not unique to me. But today, I’m reflecting on the irony.
What is so ironic? This Sunday, as part of the “Growing in Holiness” series at St. Paul’s, Nobleton, I will be preaching on the subject of “God’s Invitation to Being”. And I know for certain that I will be preaching that sermon – once it is finally prepared! – to myself before preaching it among those who gather for worship on Sunday.
Any preacher worth his or her salt willingly preaches his or her own sermons to the self before preaching them to others. And by that I don’t just mean rehearsing. As a preacher, I need to take what I say to heart before I can expect anyone else to do so. Just as a leader can only lead people as far as the leader has gone, or is willing to go, so a preacher can only be authentic in the preaching of a sermon that she or he has integrated or is willing to integrate into her or his life.
This is an important principle for all believers, that we practise what we preach – even if we aren’t “preachers”, as such. Sometimes, we proclaim God’s good news by how we live far more effectively than by what we say. Still, what we do and what we say should match what we profess to believe. It’s not always easy, and we always make mistakes. But if we say we believe something, we should do our level best, in the grace of God, to put it into practice…even if that means making some sacrifices, or saying “no” when you want to say “yes”.
The Lord Jesus criticized the Pharisees for their unwillingness to practise what they preached: “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden” (Matthew 23.1-4, NLT).
I don’t want to be a stumbling block to those among whom I serve, so I’m going to listen carefully to the message I preach this week, and put it to work!
Last night, I admitted to a friend that I had not yet prepared the Encouragement, and wasn’t sure about what I would write. He suggested that I might write about the irony of my need to slow down in order to do things like write the Encouragement! Not a bad idea. 🙂