This week in Cor Deo I had the chance to give an hour’s introduction to Ezekiel. A brief look at chapter 28 in our sweeping overview allowed a glimpse of the message to the “King of Tyre” and a chance to ponder the fall of Lucifer through a heart corrupted by a self-ward gaze.
I suspect the enemy isn’t overly concerned by some Christian preaching. You know, the kind that offers a sanctified version of Genesis 3. You can be independent, you can be successful, you can be like your own god, you can be equipped for a self-concerned life. Whether it is evangelistic (you can get yourself the best future for you, here’s a ticket to a nice heaven password) or edificatory (you can be an independent success story, just look to yourself and do these things)…I suspect the enemy isn’t too bothered.
But what if a preacher catches on to the Preaching Triangle reality of interdependence? The preacher’s own dependence on God in a love relationship, then a shared concern for the listeners to become reliant on God in a love relationship, manifesting in preaching that seeks to forge connections between listeners and preacher, and more importantly, God. This be fighting talk from the perspective of the enemy of our souls!
Interesting how the verses that jump to mind seem to support this post. Resist the devil and persist in being right and doing good? No, resist the devil and draw near to God (in the context of broken relationships, friendship with the world, the jealousy of God over the Spirit made to dwell in us, humble dependence on God). The devil prowls around like a roaring lion, so resist him and do right in yourself? No, resist, recognize the experience of your brothers around the world, look to God to restore, confirm, strengthen, etc., which is why in humility we should cast our cares on the God who cares for us.
But what about the armour of God, that is all about individual response isn’t it? Oh hang on, a key part is praying at all times in the Spirit, and they were to be praying for Paul too. Never mind. One more? The god of this age has blinded the minds to keep folks from seeing the light of the good news of the glory of Christ, the image of God, so how did Paul preach? Take a look at 2Cor.4 and see his dependence on God and self-giving for them . . . preaching triangle in the context of a great spiritual battle.
Do not lose heart. Real relationally driven preaching will touch a nerve with the enemy, but the solution can never be a retreat into non-relational solitude, that’s just his way.