Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Flaw of Emotional Preaching

Seeing the flaw of intellectually targeted preaching, many preachers aim for the emotions. Just filling people with information may seem destructive, but changing the way people feel, that has to make a difference, right?

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.--Hebrews 4:12

While some will see this verse as their commissioning to aim at the emotions only, a closer look at the text will reveal much. A) This is a highly theological passage explaining how the Sabbath is really found in faith in Jesus, B) The text calls for the thoughts and intentions, things which are not strictly emotional.

Emotional preaching will get some results. I remember talking to some performers who attended a workshop to generate revenue. They were instructed in how to get an audience to laugh, cry and connect with you. Once that had been done, the crowd was much more likely to buy your merchandise. Clearly, connecting with a person's emotions is quite powerful.

However, any good performer will also tell you, you better have your merchandise available right away. You see, it is not enough to connect with the person and then send them on their way, trusting they will forever be loyal to your performance. No, you have to "strike while the iron is hot," for emotions are temporal and subject to change.
Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.--John 2:23-25
Jesus knew far too well that an emotional connection is short lived. Circumstances change, people change and a different voice will attract their attention. Sure people loved Him now, but would they continue to? There would be a day that they would cry out "Hosanna!" and later cry out, "Crucify Him!"

Preaching at the emotions can be powerful, but if it is the only place we aim, it's bound to be short lived.

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