One of the great challenges in preaching is that everyone tends to be unaware of a massive force of resistance against the truth of the Bible. Our listeners sit contentedly unaware that they are not neutral recipients of our preaching, but oblivious subjects to such an overwhelming force. Worse, too many of us as preachers stand to preach unaware that we are also pressed incessantly by this force.
The force working against us all is as pervasive as gravity. We cannot see it. When it is explained we don’t easily grasp its meaning. And even once we’ve been alerted to it, we quickly forget it is there working continually on us. We can all live oblivious. But we cannot live impervious. This is not natural gravity, but what I will call Fallen World Gravity (FWG).
FWG influences the way we love, the way we think, the way we function. This continues to be the case even after we come to faith in Christ. Too easily we can assume that since our sin is no longer in our column in the heavenly accounts, since there is no longer any condemnation for us who are in Christ, then the gravitational pull of the Fall no longer fully applies to us. But as believers in Jesus we are still in a world, and in a body, that feels the full force of this unseen foe. Fallen World Gravity still pulls on every listener, and every preacher. All the time.
When Adam and Eve ate the fruit and fell into sin the impact was immediate and catastrophic. They died spiritually, death entered their experience physically and the creation itself became a stage of death. With this catastrophic change came a profound twisting of perspective. They could not see straight when it came to understanding God or the world He had made. It was as if a new ‘theological gravity’ came into force, a gravity that would silently pull every one of us away from seeing clearly.
The problem is really double layered. First, FWG corrupts our understanding of God and His world (including ourselves). Second, FWG is so silent and subtle that we are generally unaware of its effect on us. This is why it is so dangerous.
Let’s begin the list and start to ponder the pulls of FWG on our listeners, and on us as preachers, too!
1. FWG results in an incessant pull toward a new centre of the cosmos. Our view of reality is now distorted. God is the centre of everything, and yet we generally live convinced that we are. As fallen creatures we walk around believing the Lie that the king on the throne is Sir Self. Is this problem fixed by bowing the knee to King Jesus? Not necessarily. Very easily FWG will pull us into a Christian version of self-service where God becomes the greatest resource for us. In other words, outwardly we can tip the hat to God’s greater kingdom but, in reality, we can continue to live for the ‘kingdom of me.’
Does this influence how we view preaching? Does it influence how our listeners will hear what we say? There is no question about that. The question is, how aware are we of FWG as we pray, prepare, personalize and preach each message?