Friday, February 6, 2009

Jesus Hermeneutic: How much is too much?

Yes, I'm still working my way through a series of objections I have heard regarding a Jesus Hermeneutic. As a reminder, these objections are real statements I have heard (sometimes several times) from pastors who share a like heritage with myself. One of these questions is:

Can't Jesus be central in my ministry without me seeing the need to talk about Him in every sermon?
Honestly, this is a slight adaptation from the quote I received. I had a "pastor" (sort of) share that he had discussed my hermeneutic with others and they corporately concluded, "We believe our ministries are Christ centered, we just don't think we need to talk about him every week."

When I heard the statement, I had no reply (a feat for me). I just sat their with my jaw dangling. Even now, I sit here at my keyboard with the same expression (trust me, it's not pretty).

Quite honestly, I'm dumbfounded. Not because I don't have an answer, but because I can't believe I have to answer such a question. In one of my briefest replies, I will simply say this.

Such a question shows a real apathy toward pulpit ministry. If a pastor preaches 52 times a year (which few do) for 50 years (which even fewer do), he will preach 2600 times. If a pastor preaches 45 minutes per sermon (again, pretty generous numbers here), that means he has 1950 hours of preaching. At first these numbers seem big. However, consider...

By the time a child completes second grade, they will have received more instruction in a class room than this pastor will give from his pulpit in 50 years! Starting January 1, if you calculate a person's sleep (assuming 8 hours a night), they will exceed in sleep, this entire pastor's hours of preaching by the end of August! If all of his sermons were placed back to back, they would only last for 81.25 days. (By comparison, my pathetic excuse for an iTunes library--I'm not a music collector--consists of over 30 days worth of music, played back to back.)

Bottom line: Pastor, you do not have a lot of time. You better preach every sermon as if it is your last.

You cannot lazily assume you have plenty of time to get to the cross. You may die before your next sermon. The person in the pew may die before your next sermon. Make them count!

Second, I would simply quote Jesus:
But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.--Matthew 15:18

Brother, if you don't want to preach about Jesus, you've got a heart problem.

This is hard to swallow, but this is the direct point that Jesus made clear back in John 5:37-47. They refused to see that the text was about Jesus because they did not have the love of God in them (5:42).

The question that must be asked is not Can I keep from preaching about Jesus and still have a Christ centered ministry? but instead should be, Why would any Christ centered ministry waste an opportunity to preach by neglecting to preach of Jesus?


This does not mean I believe I perfectly exalt Christ in the midst of my preaching. Just last week, I was pretty discourage about my sermon because I fell short in this area. But my failure was not due to lack of desire. I was not aiming to preach principles and concepts to the Body, but was aiming to preach Christ. However, as a "cracked pot" I'm going to miss that which I am at occasionally. However, my concern is with the man who does not think this should be his aim! He'll miss that target every time then.


Anonymous said...

I can give an even shorter answer - when we ALL finally REALLY get it enough to consistently LIVE it without EVER resorting to self-centered living, you can stop preaching Christ.


danny2 said...

why would we quit exalting in messages about Christ when we are in glory? seems to me, that's when the preaching will really get good!

Anonymous said...

so you think it will still be necessary?

won't ALL be revealed by then?

and who will be preaching?

by the way, are we talking about heaven?

danny2 said...

is singing necessary in heaven?

yes, the Triune God deserves to be worshipped with all of our heart in song! we see it is present in the throne room.

so, is preaching no longer necessary in heaven?

it may not be needed for the corrective work that it can do. but isn't it a form of worship and doesn't it seem fitting that we would declare His praises for all of eternity.

even today, there are things said in the sermon (or possibly the entire sermon) that does not correct your thinking but simply satisfies your you are reminded of that which you already know and believe.

of course, this is coming from a guy that does not see the sermon as a "weekly beat down of the sheep" (i hope it doesn't come across that way!) but as a divinely ordained beautiful way to stand at His feet in worship.

I hope we'll get to keep doing that!

Anonymous said...

even though we talked about this in church yesterday, i still have to answer the questions you raised:

1) YES, ABSOLUTELY! SINGING IS ESSENTIAL IN HEAVEN! but i'm sure you already knew i believed that :)

2) i still don't know. funny, though, how you'll still want to preach and i'll still want to sing :)