The tough part of preaching

Tomorrow I will preach the suggested Scripture for this Sunday.  The Scripture is Matthew 3 where John the Baptist is preaching and baptizing in the wilderness.  The Pharisees came out of the city to the wilderness to see what was going on.  The Pharisees saw John calling people to repent and turn from sin, and saw people confessing their sins and being baptized by John.  And if we think John was hard on people by calling them to repent of their sins, John was especially hard on the Pharisees, calling them a brood of vipers and asking them who warned them to flee.  I do not think they were there fleeing as much as they were rubber-necking, much like today when someone hears of an accident and goes out of their way to drive by the accident scene.

Make no mistake, John is making the same point to all – they all need to turn away from sin (and not go back to that sin, but quit doing it) and turn to Jesus for forgiveness.  Some who listen to John are willing to receive it and respond and others are offended.  This concept of calling people to repentance in love is the most difficult and misunderstood part of preaching for me.  I know some people have walked away from the churches I have and do pastor because I have preached sin and repentance.  And they misunderstand.  They confuse a love that is strong enough to follow Christ’s call (on my life) to warn people to repent and be saved, with being judgemental.  I’m not judging anyone.  My job is to warn people of the wrath to come, accepting that some will receive and respond and others will be offended.  And it is my understanding of the New Testament that if a preacher is not OK with that assignment and that outcome, he or she should not be in the pulpit.

I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of His appearing and His kingdom: Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new.   They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths. But as for you, be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. ~ 2 Timothy 4:1-5

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