One time after guest preaching at a Friday night service, someone sauntered up, shook my hand with both of his, and said with all sincerity, “That was a great speech.” On some level I knew he was a baby Christian, but on a deeper level I knew I had failed my task.
When we teach or preach or listen to a sermon, it is absolutely difficult not to view it as a performance or pep rally. At conferences we “grade” the speaker like an Amazon rating and consider it a badge of doctrinal authority if we download certain podcasts. People also naturally float towards charisma, adrenaline, and spiritual highs. The funny speaker is seen as the true speaker. And while humor, passion, and personality can be used to draw people in, ultimately it must be towards Jesus alone. A speech speaks on itself; a sermon points to Him.
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