The Peculiar Pleasure of Difficult SermonsFebruary 1, 2011
Some passages scare me to death. I read them through, for the first time on a Monday morning, and they cause me to draw breath.
(Do I really need to preach this come Sunday? Why did I ever commit to consecutive preaching?!)
I had such an experience last week. Twice over… in fact. My texts were Judges 2:6-23 and 2 Corinthians 2:5-11. The themes were Israel’s apostasy (morning sermon) and church discipline (evening sermon). Talk about terrible twins!
Strangely, the preparation and preaching were sweet. Unusually useful.
But then, I shouldn’t call it strange. I am starting to find this a common experience.
Often the difficult texts provoke the deepest study…
Often the hardest texts produce the most helpful sermons…
Often the darkest texts provide the sharpest contrast to the effusive light of the gospel….
I find preaching on judgement a particular blessing. Not that I revel in judgement. Rather, I revel in grace. Therefore I find that texts which display God’s righteous wrath, do well – and do always – provide a welcome contrast to God’s lavish mercy. The more plainly we see judgement, the more clearly we see the cross.
C.J Mahaney says truly:
Only those who are aware of God’s wrath are amazed at God’s grace.
Read that quote again. Slowly.
And then embrace the next hard text that comes your way.