The Apostle Paul wrote that the Gospel was the Power of God unto Salvation. (Romans 1:16) As I contemplate this scripture, I come to the question, is there power in my sermons? If I am preaching the Gospel, then there must be power in them. Power to break strongholds, the power to change lives, the power to bring salvation to the weak, the power to break addictions, the power to bring good out of evil. The power to change structures of evil.
Telling us What’s Wrong
What all of this means is a power to take things from where they are today towards where God would have them to be. Now some preachers are great at telling us what is wrong. They go on and on about how things are not the way they should be. They tell us how we should live. They know what we are doing wrong and what we should do about it. However, just diagnosing the problem doesn’t change anything. Only griping about how the world is not in line with God’s truth may be a first step towards hope, but it isn’t the next step. This kind of preaching can make us feel the need for change, but it doesn’t take us to the next step of actually empowering change.
What has God Done
Other preachers are good at telling us what God has done for us right now. we are told about the houses that God has gotten us. We are told about the jobs that God has given us. We are told about the misdiagnoses. This kind of preaching may get some folks to shout. This preaching may get us to jump up, but doesn’t do anything to help us walk straight once we touch the ground. A lot of preaching just tells us about the fact of salvation without ever talking about the responsibilities of salvation. If we are looking at the in breaking of the Kingdom of God, there must be some change.
The Religious Lecture
Some preachers just give us a religious lecture about what the Bible said to those ancients without telling us what it says to us today. This kind of preaching tells us about the tenses of verbs and the geographical landscape of the Biblical record. We learn a lot, but we still don’t see “power.”
The Power of God to Change
A few years ago, an elderly mother of Zion critiqued one of my sermons by simply saying, “If you are going to get up there…then preach.” I interpret her saying that if you are going to preach, then say something about the power of God to change us. Say something about God’s uncontrollable power. Yes critique the problems, yes celebrate what God has done, and yes tell me enough about the history of the Bible so that I can understand it, but if you are going to stand up there, remind me of God’s power to change the future into God’s intention.