All time movie quote? Jack Nicholson in Batman to the lovely Kim Basinger: “Why so sad?” I want to twist that a tad and ask my preacher friends: “Why so angry?”
Last night I was talking to a young man and mentioned a preaching friend and he said: “The last time I heard him he just seemed angry.” Why is it that so many preachers seem so angry?
Well, actually: Plenty of reasons. There’s the past. That time you got released unexpectedly and, you felt, unjustly - and that emotion was never deal with. There’s that person. You know them, they always critique every word with a sledgehammer. And that other person, when you hear them coming you cringe, experience has taught you they are unhappy, upset or want action on something or toward someone. There’s that issue. It won’t go away, you thought you nailed it before but like a bad villain it refuses to stay dead and now whenever it comes up you just go into defense mode. There’s that false teacher who is winsome in his teaching of untruth and it makes your blood boil. And there’s that jerk that takes stuff out of context and it leading a mob to get you ousted. And then there’s that group’s elder. He is out to get you and you just know it. All you want to do it teach and preach God’s truths and help others go to heaven but it seems he is the voice for anyone who doesn’t like what you say or do. There’s that thing that chases you: the past, your own guilt, family, money...
And so over time you go to the pulpit and instead of the joy of the Lord, the grace of our Lord Jesus and the communion of the Holy Spirit - you’re just mad. And you preach mad. And, like it or not, whether you realize it or not, everyone else does.
Been there done that - remember the day I preached love with wrath. Part of the sermon on loving each other included an angry rant toward those who weren’t practicing it. It only I’d had a mirror.
Now, I’m not saying we are all “happy happy joy joy.” We must be angry at the sin that pulls souls from God and harms His little defenseless ones - but might I remind you we are “GOSPEL preachers” and you know without me dissecting it what that word means.
So you are mad. And with right to be. But anger does not beautify the Good News.
Maybe that’s why there are so many passages in the letters to a young preacher warning against getting embroiled in foolish questions , endless genealogies with cause disputes (1 Timothy 1:4), profane fables (4:7), idle gossiping (5:13) and for the glorious gospel (1:11), praying without disputing (2:8), peaceable living (2:2), being slow to anger and not quarrelsome (3:3), living in love, faith, wholesome words, godliness and purity. God knew there would be plenty of distractions to pull us to being mean, negative, angry men who make His faith look more like a chore than a joy so He encouraged us.
Check out the tone of your preaching. Will it win a soul of Jesus or just make people think you are mad at them?