Saturday, June 09, 2007

Preacher, Preach Jesus

I griped the last couple of days about what I call "therapeutic preaching." And how I don't like it. Pretty negative of me, sure, and definitely not "building up." So I thought I'd mention something about an alternative. A better way to preach. In my opinion.

Here it is:
Preach Jesus.
I can't help but thinking that Jesus is in fact the solid foundation on which all our happiness now and in eternity is based. Therefore, Jesus is the best therapy. Preacher, preach Jesus.

I've been reading the Gospel of John lately. Reading, re-reading, passage by passage, and journaling about it in my Moleskine. I'm going slowly, spending a lot of time with the text, going back over it, trying to find and identify the themes, the common threads. I'm into chapter 10 now, and here's what I've discovered. Unlike the other Gospel writers, John does not include any ethical teaching of Jesus. Everything he records of Jesus' words has to do with one simple question: Who was he?

Yup. You'll find that addressed in numerous ways. Jesus confronts people with . . . himself. Who do you say that I am?

The message of Jesus is Jesus. Amazing. It is not essentially an ethical teaching. It is certainly not a political program. It is all about identity. His. Ours.

John was the last of the Gospel writers, authoring his work a considerable time after the others. The Way was by this time, despite many difficulties, well established. And what John felt compelled to do here (compelled by the Spirit, of course), was shine the spotlight on this one question: who was Jesus?

So here's what I say: we ought to do this too. The working hypothesis of all this, in light of my ranting against therapeutic preaching, is that what we think about Jesus provides the ground for our lasting joy (even when times are very tough). Or, in other words, that Jesus saves. It is not Biblical advice that saves. It is not OT promises to ancient Israel that save. It is not vaguely Scriptural positive-thinking that saves. It is not credal affirmations, as valuable as these are in their place, that save. It is not prayer, or the laying on of hands, or speaking in tongues, that save. All I'm saying is,
Jesus saves.
Preachers, why don't you just preach Jesus?


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

i would like to actually leave a comment on this post...and there is just one thing i would like to say....JESUS SAVES!

Milton Stanley said...

Good word, Bob. I linked to it at TS. Peace.

SLW said...

I liked that! Really gave me something to think about.

SLW said...

Are you in anywhere near Houlton?

Bob Spencer said...

Nope. Houlton is "way up North," as they say. I'm down in the Portland area.

SLW said...

Does that make you downeast?

Bob Spencer said...

Ha, well, downeast is really more of a state of mind than an actual place. I don't think I'm quite downeast, though not far from it!