I never liked vinegar growing up. In recent years I’ve developed an appreciation for balsamic vinegar on salad, or cider vinegar on crisps (i.e. chips if you’re across the Atlantic). But I don’t think I’ll ever develop a taste for it in the pulpit.
What am I saying?
1. The seriousness of the message can cause us to come across as sour. The spiritual deadness of the lost, the reality of coming judgment for those who spurn God’s love in the Son, the harsh effects of sin in this broken world . . . these things all add up so that we don’t feel great levity in the pulpit. Fair enough. But let’s not give the impression that there is no joy in knowing God, or that the news we bring is something other than great news.
2. Some preachers turn every positive statement into vinegar by forced applications. “Christ has overcome the world! Have you?” or “So husbands, will we go from here and love our wives as Christ loved the church? Probably not.” Be careful not to rush to application in such a way that every positive becomes a burden. We should be relevant in our preaching, but often the relevance should not come from what we must do, but from leaning into what Christ has done.
3. Jesus wasn’t sour. We are His ambassadors. This means that we don’t just represent God’s Word (as in the content), but also we represent God completely – our demeanour, our character, our emotion, etc. Do people who hear you preach get the sense that Jesus is winsome, compelling, engaging, or do they assume he must also be sour, bitter and twisted?
Let’s prayerfully ponder this issue, lest we pickle the people in the pews.