What Have You Been Preaching Lately?
by Pastor Gene
Yesterday’s blog considered the leper that Jesus healed with a word and with a touch. As I mentioned, touching lepers was just not done. It was unhealthy, risky, socially unacceptable. But Jesus chose that path to bring healing to this outcast.
I think it says something about Jesus’ idea of preaching. One morning, very early, Jesus rose and went to a desolate place to pray. It was still dark out. When His disciples arose, they saw that he was gone and began searching for Him.
They eventually found Him. Simon and those with him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” Jesus answered, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” (Mark 1:37-38).
And so, they went to the next town. And there Jesus was “preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons,” healing the sick and ministering to people.
His sermons came to life in His actions.
His actions showed those who were watching what the message He’d been preaching actually looked like in real time and space – what it looked like to live out the love that fulfills every commandment.
Jesus touching the leper – a strictly forbidden act – was not merely intended to meet the man’s physical need, although it certainly did that. It was also an illustration of what the message of love. Jesus was saying, in effect, ‘Here’s what that love your neighbor thing looks like.’
“God so loved He gave …” (John 3:16). So, God’s love led to action. In fact, love always does that! Love, real love, always propels us into doing something.
James put it this way: “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” (James 2:15-16)
(Answer = no good at all.)
‘Love’ that does not lead to action is not love; It’s just a word.
Paul says that love – real love – actually “controls” us (2 Corinthians 5:14, ESV). The Greek word behind “controls” is difficult to translate with a single English word. It means to hold something together, to sustain it, to close something by pressing it together.
So, it carries the idea of being pressed by something both in and around so as to leave little room for movement – to crowd someone. It can even mean to seize or torment someone.
What is Paul saying here?
He’s saying that as followers of Jesus, love presses us from every side, crowding us in, motivating us, thrusting us forward into new and powerful ways of expressing itself through us.
We just can’t escape this love, it’s all around us. Paul said, “[If I] have not love, I am nothing.”
It’s what drives us into time and space, pressing us to live out this radical love before all who are watching.
And that’s exactly what Jesus did when He touched the leper: He was living out the message of a radical, and very risky, love.
That’s the way Jesus preached. He let his life illustrate His words.
The truth is, we’re always preaching. Sometimes we preach with words and sometimes we preach without them, but we are ALWAYS preaching.
And, interestingly enough, what we do is often more significant to our observers than what we say.
Anyone can say anything.
Touching … well … that’s something else again.
But when the words we speak are affirmed by the things we do, what powerful sermons we preach to the watching world!
To consider …
- If it’s true that we’re always preaching, what messages have you been preaching in the past seven days? The past month? What’s the theme of your current sermon series?
- Would those around you be convinced that God has indeed sent the Savior into the world by watching the sermons you preach with your life?
- Reflect upon Philippians 2:14-16a (my latest ‘favorite’ Bible passage): “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life …”
- Paul argues that “grumbling or disputing” will keep us from being “blameless and innocent” as “lights in the world.” Why do you think this is true?
- Do you feel that your life is a light for Jesus in the “midst of [the] crooked and twisted generation” wherein you live and move? Why or why not?
- What sermon are you preaching to those around you when you grumble or complain?
- What would those closest to you know about Jesus from watching your life?
- Do they see a marked difference between the way you handle the challenges of life as compared to the way unbelievers do?
- Is there something you need to talk to Jesus about?
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