As the Christmas messages get preached for another year, many preachers feel like there is a brief window in the schedule. It may be only a week or two, but psychologically there is a window of respite that allows for reflection and anticipation. Another year. Another year of preaching. So why do we do it?
There are so many factors involved. Let’s explore some of the reasons we preach over the next few days. I don’t want to ponder issues of pay (many preachers receive less than minimum wage for what they are doing). I don’t want to dwell on inappropriate motivations, even if they are significant for some. I will just mention some of them in passing.
Let’s take stock of some of the good reasons we preach.
1. We preach because God is a God who speaks, therefore we have something to say. Actually there are probably too many who are too confident that they have something worth saying. I don’t think we have much that is worth saying, but the Bible is a revelation of God that is certainly worth proclaiming! That is why Paul could urge Timothy to “preach the Word!” in his final words to him. He wasn’t urging Timothy to chatter and noise and declaration of vain imaginations relating to societal ills and self improvement principles. He wanted him to preach the Word.
Consequently the Bible must never become just a repository of preaching material. It must always remain the very exclusive fuel for the fire of our walk with Christ, through whom we can know the Father. When the Bible starts to feel dry to us, we have a real issue. Not because we need to squeeze a message out of its apparently dusty pages, but because something isn’t right in our relationship with the One whom we represent when we stand to preach.
2. We preach as an act of service to others. Paul views every gift given by the Spirit to the church as a gift given for the building up of others. Consequently any gifts that relate to preaching must be offered to others in faithful service. So it can’t be primarily about our own fulfillment, and certainly shouldn’t be about our own egos. We preach to build up others – to proclaim, to offer, to invite, to comfort, to challenge, to help.
Not to control, that would be self-focused. Not to cajole, that would be self-serving. Not to show off, that would be self-glorifying. We preach to serve.