The word “preaching” has some negative connotations in our culture today. When one spouse nags the other, or when a parent chastises a child, they are said to be “preaching”. “Preaching” is a word sometimes used when someone goes off on a rant of some sort. The fact that the word “preaching” has been used in such negative ways has cause some churches to shy away from the word. Instead of a preacher standing up to preach, they say that a teacher is going to present a lesson. This seems to be less offensive to some people.
I don’t think we need to avoid the word “preach”. After all, God only had one Son, and he was a preacher. The Bible says that “…God was pleased through…what was preached to save those who believe.” (1 Cor.1:21). No, we don’t need to shy away from this perfectly biblical word that has a great deal to do with how people come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. If anything, we need to restore the true meaning of the word “preach” and give it the lofty position it enjoys in Scripture.
As the apostle Paul considered his impending death, he passed the baton of preaching to his young son in the faith, Timothy. In 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul gives this charge—“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”
Sometimes the word of God when it is preached is like an encouraging pat on the back. The preacher reminds the congregation of God’s blessings and he reassures them that they are on the right path. As the people file out of the church building, they say things like, “That was a nice sermon, preacher.”
At other times the word of God when it is preached is nothing like a pat on the back at all! The preacher uses the Bible to correct an error, or right a wrong. He points out evil behavior on the part of those who claim to follow Jesus. The correction might come across so strongly as to be considered a rebuke of those who are living hypocritical lifestyles. As the people file out of the church building after hearing such preaching, they are less likely to say that the sermon was “nice”!
The Bible validates both types of preaching, positive and negative. Only a false teacher would tell the congregation that everything is just fine when in fact there is a serious sin problem in the church. On the other hand, a preacher that never has anything positive to say is also going to do harm to the church. The kingdom needs preachers who will correctly handle the Word of God and rightly apply it to the congregation to whom he is preaching. The preacher who takes his calling seriously will comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable!
When the preacher does his job correctly, he inspires and equips his listeners to take the Word out into the community. Acts 8:4 says, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” The early church grew greatly in numbers because the believers took preaching seriously. If we want to see our communities impacted for Jesus, we will also be diligent about proclaiming the Bible. Whatever you do my friends, “Preach the Word!”