For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
There’s a concept bouncing around here and there in my nation’s church culture, and it’s one I have always found rather odd. It’s the idea of a letter, article, devotional, or what-have-you being too “preachy.”
As a semi-aspiring author I’ve also found numerous submission guidelines cautioning against preachiness. And if I may be frank, I don’t get it.
For one, “preachiness” is subjective. I wonder sometimes if we get preachiness confused with conviction? What one man finds preachy, another may find wakes him up to some truth he’d previously been deceived about. Still another may pass it over without a second thought either way.
But for the most part (and pardon me if I slip into my native East Tennessean here):
Y’all! Since when are we afraid of a little good, old-fashioned preachin’?
Now when I write of preaching, I do not mean hatefulness. There’s a vast gulf between preaching truth and spewing spite and venom.
Real preachiness is twofold, stemming first from God’s Word and secondly from a sincere desire to see other people saved from what the Lord calls “the outer darkness” (or sometimes the fiery furnace) where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (see Matthew 8:12, 13:42, 50, Luke 13:28, et al).
Or as Paul puts it:
…I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
As I’ve been reading and studying through Romans for several weeks now, it amuses me to imagine Paul, Peter, James, and some of the others looking for a market for their letters in today’s social climate. Goodness, a good percentage of the Word of God is preachy, even in-you-face confrontational.
In my own experience with the Lord, it was not positive and upbeat snippets of devotional thought which brought me to bow the knee before the King of kings. It was through the preachiness of good expository speaking and writing, verified by the words of Scripture itself, and stirred up to Godly grief which lead to repentance by the Holy Spirit.
Church, if someone’s called to preach it, let him preach it! We each have a job to do for the Kingdom, and part of that job is holding one another accountable to the Word of Truth.
So unless someone preaches a different gospel, let ’em preach on, whether you like the tone or not. Perhaps you are not the divinely intended target.
But what if you are? I’ve only walked with the Lord for around 2 decades, but in that time, He has kept me diligent in my reading and study of His Word. One thing I’ve learned when I find my feathers ruffled by a writing or teaching is to take it before Him in prayer and with my Bible open before me.
Sometimes the teaching is erroneous, and I sigh in relief since I’m not the one in need of chastisement.
But other times… Well.
My first question when I take these matters to the Lord is whether or not my reaction to preachiness is actually conviction. It is all too easy to confuse the two.
So maybe when we find ourselves chaffed by some preachy article, it’s time to do a prayerful heart check. It could be a message we need to hear, exposing something God wants us to address. Or it could be a message for someone else.
And yes, it could be a flaw in the writer. But as Romans 8 says, God really does work all things for the good of those who love Him – which includes learning from our mistakes.
After all, each of us is ultimately accountable to God. And He does discipline His children when we step out of line. Trust me on that one.
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
(2 Timothy 4:1-2)