I was talking to one of our readers during my office hours and the subject came to the preachers who get all the invitations. In some cases they are the ones who tell people about the car, house, job, spouse, etc that you are guaranteed when you plant a seed or are obedient to the gospel of Jesus Christ. He talked about the problems with such a theology, and he was concerned that so many people want to hear that message.
I encouraged the brother with some words that are much like these: While it is true that many people want to hear such a guarantee, it is also true that sometimes we preachers underestimate our audience. We need to recognize that our hearers are hoping to hear a word of hope because they live in a world of hopelessness. They are hoping to hear a word of power because they live in a world where God’s power is not discerned. They are wanting to hear a word that is relevant to their life, because they often hear irrelevant platitudes from religious folks. Say what you will about the “name it claim it” crowd, but at least they attempt to give these things to the congregation. While I agree that the theology of guaranteeing an outcome is deficient, I also think that some preachers blame the people instead of looking in the mirror.
You are preaching a word of perseverance. OK, that’s cool, but why didn’t you relate to the lived experience of your people? You are preaching a word of “loving your enemies,” (Matthew 5:44) that’s well and good, but why didn’t you order it correctly for maximum impact. You are preaching a word of “God’s power to forgive and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) That’s necessary, but why ain’t you happy and thus pass on that happiness to your people? The good news is by definition, Good. There are times when we must have somber moments, but why is it that your sermons never give anybody anything to shout about?
Even if you have to make a bed in hell, God is with you (Psalm 139:8). Now that is good news to folks who find themselves in a hell on this earth. That ain’t gauranteeing a new car, but that is good news, why can’t you shout about that? God gives power to live the life of God in a fallen world. That’s good news, why can’t you shout about that. God has forgiven us. That’s good news why can’t you shout about that? God directs us in what we should do and how we should live. That’s Good news, why not shout about that? God even chastens those who God loves. That’s good news. Why not shout about that?
The people want a relevant and powerful word that strengthens them and helps them to live todoay and tomorrow. Give them that. And if they still want you to guarantee them a new car if they plant a seed, then don’t worry about that, you have done your job. If they still want you to guarantee them a new house. Then don’t worry about that, just keep on preaching something real and significant. God will bless you, and whether you believe it or not, many will be drawn to such a message.