Rev. Kent Schaaf
1 Corinthians 2
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit,
Church is not a popularity contest, it’s not about who you know, what you know, and what you can do for God. And, in the same way preaching is not a popularity contest. Its not about what you know, how well you speak, what stories or jokes or words-mithing you can do for your hearers. Preaching is not about the elaborate sermon series, its all about Jesus, Him crucified, risen from the dead for you, for the life of the whole world. Proclaimed to you. Pastors are to preach the Word, in season and out of season, they are to correct, rebuke and reprove with all manner of gentleness and teaching. There’s not much popularity in that, with you or the world.
And yet in order for a pastor to do this job, he is to speak, he is to use his mouth…and oh how dangerous that can be. It’s a dangerous work because the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.
Our mouths can be a two edged sword, with one breath we can bless and the other we can curse. But even then there is the greater temptation for the pastor is to tell you what is popular, to connect with you and our modern ways of thinking and what we accept today as a society. We strive to remain faithful, but the old Adam is always there tell us to itch your ears, to tell you the things that you want to hear, the things that are not about Jesus and all His blessed life giving death and resurrection for you. There is great temptation for the pastor to speak something else.
But none of you are off the hook either. In the end I’m sure you’d rather your pastor be the one who is a bit more edgy, popular or who will at least keep you awake. Tell us something, anything than what we already know pastor. Yes, we know that Jesus was crucified for us, yes, we know that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins, yes, we know that faith comes by hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ. Yet, that whole Jesus on the cross things was so last week and the week after that and the week after that. Give us something fresh, relevant, meaningful, quit pointing to the gory dead God on the cross and give me a Jesus that is just alright with me. Give me a god who fits how I want god to be, just like myself. A god who will not look upon the secret sins of my heart saying that I deserve death, a god who will not require punishment and the shedding of blood to pay for what I’ve done, but a god who is my best buddy, my bosom pal. And yet Scripture says, “The foolishness of man ruins his way, And his heart rages against the LORD.”
This why Paul grounds both the pastor and you the hearer with our reading today. “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” Pastors are sent to preach the living and active Word of God so that what the prophet once foretold might remain true:
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire.”
Preaching the Cross is preaching the true Power of God. And by this preaching God sends and accomplishes what he desires the forgiveness of sins for you. For the blood Jesus speaks pardon on your behalf. Nothing flashing, nothing awe inspiring of pure Gospel power from the bloody pulpit of the cross….”forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus must be the preaching, for only Jesus does the dying and rising for you and for all.
Paul did it with fear and trembling, being totally counter culture, in fact he lost his life because of it. The Lord uses the foolish things of the world to overcome that which is wise, He uses the weak things of the world to overcome that which is strong. Forget what we want, forget what is popular. In our preaching and in our hearing it must always be, “sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Show us Him on the cross, show Him alive again, proclaim to me that I am forgiven, and you are. Let us see and hear Him so that we may know and receive the power of God. For faith comes by hearing and hearing through the Word Christ and it is only by this faith we can truly respond Lord to whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life.
To Christ alone be all the glory now and forever. Amen.