Another January 2008 post for you, another day of holiday for me with my family (this is pre-loaded, in case you are wondering). . .
As preachers we always run the risk of preaching in black and white. We read a biblical text, compile the facts and preach them. Biblical writers wrote in a time where detail concerning characters in the narrative was sparse to say the least. We don’t read physical descriptions very often, other details are usually lacking and a character’s character is often only hinted at. Yet today we preach in a world where character detail and description are much more prominent (in advertising images, commercials, dramas, movies, etc.)
Warning! – The danger here is that we preach from the biblical lack of detail in a manner that resembles an abstract or colorless lecture. We can easily preach messages that people don’t relate to, can’t connect with and probably won’t be touched by.
Possibility! – The text often does give us more than we may at first notice. So with a little extra work and care, perhaps we can preach narrative texts in a more compelling and gripping way.
Definitely! – First we must be sure to make the most of whatever the text does give us. Don’t skim over a physical description, or the meaning of a name, or dialogue from their lips, or any other statement regarding the person.
Carefully! – Typically the text will not give enough information to build a full profile of a character. But carefully proceed to build more of a profile if you can. Consider all pertinent biblical, historical and cultural information. In areas where there is no possible certainty, perhaps suggest possibility without being definite. “Perhaps he felt . . . or was . . . or wanted . . .”
Remember that your goal is to preach the idea of the text with relevance to your listeners. Don’t get sidetracked into endless character profiling like an obsessive detective in a crime drama. Of course, facts are critically important. However, remember that lectures can be boring, but characters in dramas are compelling.