Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Seductive Allure of the "different"

There are days when things just don't seem to work right when I am sitting here in front of this computer working on a Sermon. The fact that I am writing a blog post here instead of typing a draft of the sermon is a sign of that. The fact that this post is coming on a Tuesday instead of Monday is another sign.

There are just times when a Pastor will sit down, see the text, know what he wants to write. . . and nothing comes out. Or what does just doesn't sound right - it sounds tired, it sounds old, it sounds like something we "all know" anyway. It sounds boring.

Yesterday I had a productive day. The sermon didn't want to write, so I did other things - hymn planning, bible study writing, e-mail devotion writing, shut-in visits. A good day. I figured I would put the sermon off until Tuesday morning instead. Tuesday morning is here, it is bright and early - and sure, there are 700 words or so on paper - but. . . eh.

So, why do I write this? Because we should understand that these days come, that this is the way in which Pastors will on occasion struggle. We are to handle the Word of Truth, we are to rightly divide that - and on occasion that can just seem like old hat.

So what do we do in response to this? Now, in the world the typical response is to change - to spice things up a bit. Go to Arby's for lunch, because different is good. Boredom is the chief sin, not being always entertained and enthused is the great fear of society today. So - go do something different, find something new. Find something flashy.

Just think on the past month. How have you responded to boredom - I need something new. Let's go rent a new film instead of watching what we have. Let's go out and do something, something different. Now - I'm not saying that this is fundamentally wrong - nothing wrong with enjoying the diversity of blessings that are present (unless we end up coveting various things - which we can come close to far more often than we like to admit).

Now - here is the danger, especially for pastors. I've seen people who have wondered, who have lamented how once solid pastors have fallen into religious stupidity, who fall off the bandwagon and get on the praise band kick - who start preaching theological schlock. Why do they do this?

My answer - I'm guessing they get bored. They get bored with Christ and Him Crucified - we all *know* that. So we can do as Pastors what we do with the rest of our life - we do something different. Let's do something to spice up Sunday morning, let's put some snaz on the sermon - talk about some neat law idea. I'm bored - something must change.

And here, dear friends, is where Satan is so subtle. Here is where temptation is so alluring. Change is needed - but not change in what is preached, or the service. Change is needed - the classic Christian change - repentance. If the Word seems. . . eh. . .that isn't saying something about the Word, that's saying something about me, about my sinful nature, about my approach.

Repentance is needed. Prayer is needed. Time spent in thought about the Word rather than just glossing over it, assuming that you know about it. That's hard. That involves the long, hard look in the mirror. That places the problem with one's own self. And that isn't pleasant. So, do we take the easy route - just start trying something different, or do we repent and pray?

Lord, defend your pastors from taking the easy way!

P.S. Pastors - how often do you find you have weeks like this? I find it happens maybe three or four times a year. You guys get this ever? This analysis make sense?

1 comment:

Pastor D said...

This is what Paul means when he says...preach the Word in season and out of season...when it is easy and when it is difficult...when people want to hear it and when they might not. This is how we "wrestle" with the text.

Preach on!