Encouragement From The Word

Foolish preaching

I’m going to resist the temptation, on this April Fools’ Day, to write about the foolishness of not believing in God, as extolled by Psalm 14, though the psalmist is absolutely right.  (Actually, I’ve done this before.)

Perhaps instead I’ll focus on what the Bible calls the foolishness of preaching.

Wait a minute, Jeff.  This doesn’t seem like much of an advertisement for your line of work.

Well, consider what the apostle Paul said, in context:

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.  As the Scriptures say,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise
    and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”

 So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish.  Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.  It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom.  So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.

But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.  This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.  (1 Corinthians 1.18-25, NLT, emphasis mine)

If God can use what I (and other preachers) say to bring salvation, then I’ll be a homiletical fool for Jesus. 

It’s surprising how many people think that preaching has no place in contemporary society, but I disagree.  In response to that perception, though, a lot of sermons have become very brief and very light.  Yet I have found that it isn’t preaching in and of itself that people are reacting against, but pointless preaching that fails to challenge.

In other words, bad preaching has no place in contemporary society (or in any other society).  People will sit and listen to good preaching at length.  That whole thing about short attention spans?  Yeah, tell that to Netflix.

People will appreciate preaching that edifies them, that challenges them, that anchors them in a deepening relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  That’s the foolish preaching that Paul was writing to the Corinthians about.  That’s the foolish preaching to which I, and any preacher, ought to aspire.

And that’s no joke.

Encouragement From The Word, Uncategorized

No foolin’!

I’ve never been a fan of pranks, whether on April 1 or any other day.  I enjoy a good laugh as much as anyone else does, but not at the expense of others’ dignity.  Good, creative April Fool jokes can be most enjoyable.  I read Model Railroader magazine each month, and the creative staff at Kalmbach Publishing do an outstanding job of finding new ways to trick readers.  (This year, it was a product review of a tower and depot kit from “Seed Scale Models”.  In the box was a pine cone and some acorns!  I wonder how long people were strung along by that one?)

Our culture suggests that anybody who falls for a prank on April 1 is a fool.  But the Bible defines a fool differently.  It says:

Only fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14.1a, NLT).

Richard Dawkins and company may work tirelessly in an attempt to discredit Christian notions of God, but atheists come and go as they have come and gone for centuries.  The Word of the Lord stands forever, and ultimately, we will find out in eternity who “wins”.

I’m putting my bets on God, made known in his Son Jesus Christ, and in his Word in Scripture.  If I’m wrong, I’ve lost nothing.  But if I’m right, I will gain eternity.  With that in mind, I’d rather be a fool for Christ in this life than a fool who says there’s no God.

How about you?