God’s preacher Jonah wasn’t happy with his assignment to proclaim the Word of the Lord to those wicked Ninevites. He was so unhappy about it he rebelled against God’s command by going the opposite direction from where God wanted him to be. Those of us who preach are often ultra-critical of Jonah. We talk about how he deserved to be swallowed up by that great whale. How in the world could he not want the people of Nineveh to be saved? How in the world could he not want to proclaim God’s saving message to everyone?
Before we jump on Jonah too much we need to look in our own mirror. Is it possible that we are more like Jonah then we would want to admit? My guess is that there are some preachers who are reading these words who have a deep understanding of what Jonah was thinking. There are probably some of you reading this who feel you would rather be swallowed by a whale than preach to those terrible sinners this Sunday?
There’s that nagging feeling that we are not prepared for the task before us.
There’s that feeling that we could do better somewhere else.
There’s the English professor who will remind us AGAIN where we made grammatical mistakes.
There’s the retired preacher who will remind us AGAIN how he would have preached that sermon.
There’s the elder who thinks we need to come down harder on people who aren’t living right.
There’s the elder who thinks we shouldn’t come across so hard when we are preaching.
There’s the new Christian who thinks we are way to deep in our preaching for people to understand.
There’s the older Christian who thinks we are way to shallow in our preaching for those who need to grow more.
There’s the younger folk who believe we need to be more relevant, more compassionate, and more grace oriented in our preaching.
There are the older folk who believe we need to be more Biblical, more pointed, and more doctrinal in our preaching.
There are the families who think we need to spend more time talking about marriage, parenting, and family relations.
There are the people who think we need to use more stories, more jokes, and preach more narrative sermons.
There are the people who think we need to use more Scripture, less humor, and be more logical in our preaching.
There are some who think the sermon is too long.
There are others who think the sermon isn’t long enough.
There’s that disagreement you had with your wife that has caused you to feel unworthy of telling others how to live.
There’s the lack of sleep due to small children who are sick or just don’t want to sleep.
There’s that trouble your teen got into and now you wonder if you’re still qualified.
There’s that elders meeting you sat through that has caused you to wonder how long you’ll be able to keep this job.
OH BROTHER, I THINK WE NEED A SLOW BOAT TO TARSHISH! So what do we do? We preach, we proclaim God’s Message anyway. And why?
We have a mandate from our Master to Preach the Word regardless of what is going on around. (2 Timothy 4:1-3)
We have a message that is life-changing. (Acts 26:20)
The power to save men’s souls is not in us, it is in the Good News. (Romans 1:15-17)
Preaching is not about us, it’s about the cross of our Savior. (Galatians 6:14)
When we preach God is pleased. (1 Thessalonians 2:4)
When we preach those who hear learn about the immeasurable wealth of Christ. (Ephesians 3:8)
When we preach those who hear receive something that gives them solid ground to stand on in a world that is always changing. (1 Corinthians 15:1)
Preaching glorifies God. (1 Peter 4:11)
God has chosen preaching to save the world. (1 Corinthians 1:21)
It won’t always be easy. There will be times we will feel unprepared, unworthy, and unqualified. There will be times we will feel that our audience is unworthy. What do we do during these times? We preach and allow the Lord to work on the hearts and lives of those who listen. We preach and allow the Lord to work on our own heart. We preach and allow the Lord to make sure that His Word does not return void. We preach and allow the Lord to give the increase. We Preach and allow the Lord to…We Preach! Now preacher, get out of the belly of that whale and go preach!!
Dear Father, help those of us who preach to stand with courage, conviction, and compassion as we seek to Honor you. We pray for preachers who are hurting even as they consider their assignment from above. Dear God, help us in all that we do and all that we say to glorify You. In Jesus Name we Pray, Amen.