What the Church Should Preach On?
by Lt. John R. Van Cleef –
What should the church preach on?
I’ve had deep and impassioned discussions with a dear Christian brother recently regarding this question. “We should preach on sin,” he says “We should preach about gambling and all of the evils that go along with it.”
On a national level, we hear the cry of the “religious right” to preach on the morality of the president. We should preach on the state of politics and the call to reform. We should preach on morality and the pervasive influence of the gay rights movement–all the way to “Tinky Winky” himself (or herself)? We should preach about the plague of abortion and those infectious minds that support it.
On a local level, we hear the cry to preach about gambling and the immoral environment it creates. We should preach about legalized prostitution and the ensuing wrath it will bring. We should preach about the drugs and alcohol which infest our schools and young people.
We live in an age where the church has become more aware and more involved in the process of politics. Countless men and women have stood up to declare that now is the time for Christians to unite and place into the halls of power their leader. A man or woman who will lead us to national redemption and morality. A man or woman who will lead us back to the throne of God. A man or woman who will bring in the day of the righteous and the conquest of evil.
If this is the goal of the church, and the preachment of ministers throughout the nation, we’ve missed the point. Am I suggesting we shouldn’t be aware of these things or vote wisely and biblically about them? Am I suggesting that the Christian church should not be the antithesis to the moral issues that vex society? Not at all.
What I am stating is that these things should not be our focus, but the natural and spiritual byproduct of lives centered on Jesus Christ.
In his book, “What’s So Amazing About Grace,” Philip Yancey makes the case, saying: “How is it that Christians called to dispense the aroma of grace instead emit the noxious fumes of ungrace?” In the United States in the 1990s, one answer to that question springs readily to mind. The church has allowed itself to get so swept up in political issues that it plays by the rules of power, which are rules of ungrace. In no other arena is the church at greater risk of losing its calling than in the public square.”
The Christian church’s unique ministry to the world is the ministry of grace–and within that ministry its members are called to be ambassadors of reconciliation between God and humankind. Yet in our preaching about the president we’ve forgotten to pray for him. In our preaching on politics we’ve gotten lost in the worldliness of it all. In our preaching on morality we’ve forgotten to love the enslaved and infirm. In our preaching against abortion we’ve neglected the poor, broken girl whose heart is deeply wounded by the choice she’s made.
In the preaching against gambling we’ve failed to proclaim freedom from slavery to the addicted. In our preaching against prostitution, we’ve not expressed God’s love and touch to those who are abused and broken and lost. In our preaching on kids, drugs, and alcohol we’ve failed to see the opportunity to reach a generation for Christ–a generation that is seeking and hungry for truth.
Jesus taught us that the greatest command was this: “To love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and strength. And the second is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself.”
What Jesus proclaimed is a radical thing. He’s telling us that our focus needs to be on him. Our devotion needs to be to him. Our responsibility is to him. As a direct result of loving the Lord our God with our all–in conjunction with loving God–we will love people, and in loving people we will effect the kind of change in society that needs to be wrought.
Again, in “What’s So Amazing About Grace,” Yancey proclaims the following: “A state government can shut down stores and theaters on Sunday, but it cannot compel worship. It can arrest and publish KKK murderers, but cannot cure their hatred, much less teach them love. It can pass laws making divorce more difficult, but cannot force husbands to love their wives and wives their husbands. It can give subsidies to the poor, but cannot force the rich to show compassion and justice. It can ban adultery, but not lust, theft but not covetousness, cheating but not pride. It can encourage virtue but not holiness.”
What should the Christian church preach on? Those things that compel every individual member of God’s family to a life of devoted love in their relationship with our heavenly father, and a personal life of grace in relationship with their fellow man.