When the Word of God is preached, something happens. God’s Word, inspired by God’s Spirit, pointing toward God’s Son, spoken by a person empowered by the Spirit of God for their calling from God’s Son, to people prepared by the Spirit of God – it’s a recipe for response!
At times we can see that response. We get to see the people moved, the individuals gripped, the lives changed. Sometimes we see something at the moment of preaching, or soon afterwards. Sometimes we only see the response over months and years of ministry.
At other times we don’t see the response. We preach our hearts out and are devastated by polite niceties. Or perhaps we don’t see the response we long for. Perhaps we get the response of criticism, or argument, or outright attack. Not quite what we had in mind when we prayed for lives to be changed!
Nevertheless, let’s be committed to preach for response, even an apparently negative one, rather than playing safe and settling for nothing other than polite platitudes. Obviously any one of us could abuse this post. We could take it as an excuse to wind people up, to create tensions, to lack sensitivity. We must all answer for our own motivations, and of course, we will answer as preachers for how we have taken the opportunity to present God’s Word (2Tim.4:1-2).
Let’s not settle for smooth, let’s rather preach the Word with sensitivity to God and to His people, with a prayer-fuelled passion to see Him prompting response rather than apathy, transformation rather than safety.