Preach the truth! Well, of course. That should be a given for any preacher, right? Every preacher has heard at least once the saying based on John 1.14, 17 that says something like, “There is no truth without grace and no grace without truth.”
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah! I understand all that. But when I say that one of the values I try to uphold in my preaching is to speak truthfully, I mean more than just upholding Christian doctrine. So let me explain.
In our lives, there are two basic stories competing with each other. There is the story that God want us to tell us and there is the story the world is telling us. As I was reminded of by Randy Harris (whom some of my blog readers know), these two stories have two fundamentally different views of reality. The story the world is telling is one of fear and power while the story God wants us to hear is one of self-sacrificial love that is given its full expression in Jesus and his destiny towards cross and resurrection. This is what Harris labeled as “cruciformity.”
It makes a difference which story we believe because we live the story we believe. This is about what our worldview is, whether it is of this world or of God. To life the story God wants to tell us, we must learn to think and live as Jesus thought and lived. That is, we learn to live by the same beliefs (convictions) and values Jesus had.
So when I say that I want to uphold the value of preaching truthfully, what I mean is this: In addition to preaching based on a sound exegesis of a particular passage, I want to show how the passage fits within the large story God is telling so that the church will learn to think and live more like Jesus. This way, our lives individually and communally will reflect the reality of life as God sees it.
This means that as a preacher I must be a truth-teller, pointing out the differences between the story God is telling and the story our world is telling. Of course, this requires humility, for I can get this truth-telling wrong. It also requires gentleness as truth-telling is not to be confused with bullying. Further more, while it is the role of the Holy Spirit to do the convicting in our lives, truth-telling requires intentionality on my part. If I am not being intentional about helping to illuminate the story God is telling against the story of the world then I am not striving to preach truthfully.
What are your thoughts?
See also this previous post: