I’d like to revisit the theme of the last two posts from another angle. Perhaps an analogy might help. Sitting across from a friend in Pizza Hut, I decide to “preach” my new mobile phone to him.
I place it on the table and say what it says on it. “Samsung.” Then I describe it a bit, sharing a bit of the knowledge I’ve gleaned in my research. “It’s a Samsung Galaxy S. Free with most usage contracts. It runs Android 2.1 currently, and it’s mostly black.”
Then I construct a message based on the phone. “You see the N in Samsung? This makes me think of the iPhone, because that has an N in it too. The iPhone is very popular now and the new operating system has really improved on the old 3GS, even with all the controversy over the signal dropping. Now for my next point, do you see the two S’s in the name? This makes me want to talk about Sony Vaio laptops – they really have come down in price lately, not as elite as they used to appear in the market.”
I could go in any number of directions with “my message” based on the Samsung sitting in front of me. I could talk about mobile phones, or technology, or communication, or any subject of my choice. If I could make enough connections to the phone, my friend might even think I was clever!
But all the while my Samsung phone is sitting there, black, dormant, inactive, unused, undemonstrated. The focus is on my cleverness in message construction, technology association and sheer verbosity.
How different it would be if I would pick it up, turn it on, and show my friend the phone in action, let him see the resolution, experience the new text input method, enjoy an app or two. Suddenly I’m not preaching my message based on the surface details of the phone. Now I’m preaching the phone!
The same is true of preaching a Bible text. Some of us are happy to have the text sit open in front of us while we construct our message based on the text. We make the most random associations in order to preach from the Bible book we would have preferred to be preaching from. We jump off relatively incidental details (at least in the way we use them) to get to the message we are itching to share.
All the while the text sits there. Inspired dynamite ready to be detonated in the hearts and lives of listeners, lying dormant while we wax on eloquently with our message based on the text, sort of. Can I be so bold as to summarize my point in three words? Preach the text!