In his excellent blog, preaching prof John Koessler recently shared this: “Christ’s words serve as fair warning to all who preach that divine authority does not guarantee a smooth path. We would like to think that God given authority also gives us leverage with our hearers. ‘Listen to us,’ we want to say. ‘We speak for God.’ But the same Bible that gives us our authority also offers ample proof of the congregation’s capacity for discounting that authority.
“Preaching is an awkward business. The preacher does not give advice; the preacher declares. The preacher tells people what is right and what is wrong. When they turn to the right or the left, the preacher stands before them like the angel who stood in Balaam’s path, and says, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’ What right do we have to make such demands? Who are we to tell others how to live?
“Preaching is impolite. When we preach, we draw public conclusions about the motives of our listeners and impugn their character. We utter things from the pulpit that we would not dare to say in private conversation, at least not to strangers!
“This is the preacher’s prophetic responsibility. ‘Prophetic preaching does not necessarily imply that the preacher assumes the role of Jeremiah or Amos, but that the preacher remains faithful to the prophetic dimensions of biblical texts,’ Thomas G. Long explains. ‘If the word comes from God in the biblical text, the preacher remains true to that word, regardless of the reaction or the cost.’
“Unfortunately, the prophetic mantle cannot guarantee that every barb that’s aimed in our direction is undeserved. Some of the complaints leveled against us are warranted. The reproach we bear is not always the reproach of Christ. Sometimes it comes as a result of rash decisions we have made or right words spoken in the wrong spirit. My friend was right. Worse things have been said about better men. Just as often better things are said about us than we deserve.” (Click here to read the full article.)