Preaching on Controversial Themes

Sometimes people tell pastors not to preach on controversial themes in order to keep the peace (which is no peace). I fear we’ve done just that. Because a Gospel-living-Christian is bound to be controversial by definition. After all, they follow a man who was controversial enough to get the electric chair. If our words, actions and beliefs remain unchallenged after we start following that man, then how closely are we really following Him?

Perhaps we pastors have quenched the Spirit of the prophets and kept our mouths shut so that everyone can feel at ease. We preach about the love and grace God has for us because everyone’s into that, but we push some of the more extreme “Kingdom of God” stuff off to the side so we don’t ruffle any feathers. After all, many of us got into this job because we like to help people, and no one who feels that way wants anyone to dislike them.

But as Christians, our allegiance is to Jesus alone. And I think right now we pastors are perhaps being called to preach the Gospel as it really stands. Yes, there’s blessing in the Gospel, but it’s for those who are poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungry for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peace-making, and persecuted and slandered for righteousness’ sake. Yes, there’s love and grace in the Gospel, but it’s a kind of love that is passed on to us and expected to be given way to the person who did the worst thing imaginable to us.

And yes, there are expectations about how we should live and what we should believe. And if we pastors were really to preach all of that, I fear many of our churches would fall apart over night. But our churches should not crumble at the teachings of Jesus. Instead, these old bodies of ours should crumble so the resurrected one can break through. Then the world will be able to catch a greater glimpse of who Jesus is and what He’s all about—and so will we.

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