Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Is that Really Necessary?

As a boy I was a smart aleck. I still have a rascally (thanks Elmer) sense of humor. More than once, upon injecting what I thought was just some good clean fun into the situation, I would hear the voice of authority pour water on my amusement with the ever useful, "Was that really necessary?" Sometimes, the temptation was to retort, "when someone says or does something that dumb, yes!" But, that would have just poured gasoline on the fire. I'll let you decide whether I learned that by applying wisdom or through the school of hard knocks. Regardless, it takes a while to learn grace.

I did not grow up in church, per se, even though I attended a few mainline church services along the way. I did do some hard time in Sunday School, but got released early, when I was 10, for bad behavior. ;-) Occasionally, I bumped into a televangelist while flicking the TV dial through its rotation. I've got to say, the unique techniques of communicating to church people struck me as weird and distracting. If folk talked that way anywhere else, they'd never be taken seriously, but laughed to scorn. Why the personal history? The background is needed to understand the point of view of what you're about to read.

What is it that I have to say? Well, to all those who "preach" the Gospel, (and maybe for all those who go to hear the gospel being preached), "Stop being a clown!" Church is not a carnival, preaching the Gospel isn't a performance, and the "anointing" doesn't have any biblical, behavioral signs! Enough with huffing and puffing, and eyes rolling back in their sockets, and sudden shudders, and profuse, self-inflicted sweating, and hanky waving, and on, and on, and on. I'm reminded of a car manufacturing anomaly from the 70's: the Chevette SS. Stripes and chrome, and a bigger engine package could never hide the reality-- it was still just a Chevette! Vroom! Vroom! Rather than the example of Christ, carnival barking preachers emulate the illusionist's art, i.e. they distract the audience away from the truth with the show.

WWJD. I think it's germane to the preaching "craft". If Jesus didn't do it, should we? Who better knows how to communicate eternal, life-giving truth than he? It's alright to be a fool for Christ, and it's OK to preach foolishness as the world sees it, but it's not acceptable to diminish the majesty and importance of the message of Christ through affected tomfoolery. So, the next time you're preaching (or even the next time you're going to see a preacher), do everyone a favor, especially the Lord of glory: ask yourself, "Is that really necessary?"

5 comments:

  1. Do they trust in the power of the Holy Spirit inspired scripture to draw people in or do they not have faith in it, so they try to add spice to it to make it "interesting".

    Is the Holy Spirit alone enough for someone to come to salvation or does the Spirit need us to "help" bring people to salvation?

    My Dad's testimony if proof that the Spirit is the only recipe needed. He picked up the cross and started fallowing the Lord one night in his truck at work! He was by himself and the Spirit just came upon him and told him he needed to change and he responded.

    We need to remember it is not about us and how well we preach the message. The message just needs to be preached and the Spirit will do the rest.

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  2. RIP,
    I think, for some, it's been the culture of church as long as they've known it, and they think that's how it is supposed to be done. For some others, I think they like the reaction they get, and for some, it is blatant manipulation and a smoke screen. For no one is it the example of Christ or anyone in the NT, and for me it is a ridiculous, out of place display of the flesh instead of reliance on the Spirit.

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  3. I hear what everyone is saying. But I really like Jesse Duplantis. He has a way of using humor to drive home a point.

    On the other hand, I have heard ministers "try to use humor" and it was just a ridiculous display of what they lacked in the anointing. And my sentiments were, was that really necessary?!

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  4. Amerikan,
    I never have a problem with folk being who God made them to be and expressing things the way God made them to express them. Some folks are humorous, some are story tellers, some of them are gregarious, some of them are a bit rascally (I wonder who that could be?), etc. I just don't want to see a marked difference between how they act on the platform from how they act in the coffeeshop or around the dining room table. Integrity and authenticity were qualities in Christ the preacher/teacher, and I guess would describe what I'm getting at.

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  5. Yes, slw, you are exactly right. Why should there be a difference in the pulpit and out of the pulpit. It comes back to genuineness and sincerity. And as you pointed out, God works with the personality. In Kathryn Kuhlman's case, she was very melodramatic and demonstrative. Old school friends of hers said, "That was Kathryn even as a kid."

    I have found through the years that where one gets saved in his/her life is what one identifies with as being the norm, ie., their pastor's anointing/or style of delivery or the Bible school one graduated from. In their sometimes immaturity, they see anything deviating from
    their original point of reference as being wrong or unacceptable.

    Thank God He didn't make us all alike and gave us some diversity whether it be Joyce Meyer's stoicness and dry humor or Jesse Duplantis' animated hilarity or T.D. Jakes' loud, blow your head off blasting.

    In any of this, falsehood, fake or the flesh is what we don't want.

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Any comment in ill taste or not germane to the post may be deleted without warning. I am under no obligation to give anyone an opportunity to call me names or impugn my motives or integrity. If you can't play nice, go somewhere else and play.