A Quirky Detective – When you are preaching epistles it may be helpful to think of yourself as a quirky detective. You might be thinking that quirky is a strange qualifier to add, but hang in there, I have a paragraph to come up with a justification for that bit. Epistles are powerful. They offer a unique presentation of gospel truth and application of theology to a specific situation. When an epistle does its work, it can really work in the heart and mind of a listener. So what is the preacher to do? Are we supposed to ignore the contextual features and offer sterilized theological argumentation using a blend of biblical and theologically loaded terminology? Or are we supposed to hold out the epistle in all its uniqueness, helping listeners to see how the letter was designed to change lives then, and consequently, watch them feel the force of it now? A good preacher of epistles ignites the imagination, clarifies the thinking of the writer, demonstrates its compelling relevance to today, and allows the text to do what the text was inspired and designed to do. A detective holds up something as apparently insignificant as a piece of mail and shows how it unlocks and clarifies a real life (and death) situation. And since people might expect an epistle to be just another boring letter, it probably doesn’t hurt to be a bit quirky too (all the best TV detectives are a little bit unique!) There is more to preaching epistle than that, but there shouldn’t be less.
As before, feel free to add your own metaphors in the comments and I might develop some (giving credit).