Originally published in the Wed, Oct 10th, 2007 Louisburg Herald.
What is a Christian Sermon?
I have a challenge for you. The next time you hear a sermon, listen to determine if Jesus is actually explained. Count how often the minister explains Jesus. Pay careful attention, for mentioning Jesus is not the same as explaining him; count the times you hear Jesus expounded.
A Christian sermon explains Jesus; it starts with Jesus, it is filled with Jesus, and has Jesus as the chief meaning. Any other kind of sermon, no matter how useful or true, is… well, something else. The Christian sermon is the Christ-sermon, exalting and pointing to the very revelation of God in Jesus. The Church gathers on Sunday to feed on Christ, and the accurate preaching of Jesus is manna from heaven. God has ordained the preaching of, “Christ and him crucified.”
With this idea of a Christian sermon set before you, I can now suggest the presence of a classic trap. The trap is simple. The minister who does not preach Christ will yet preach true things, even helpful, fantastic and profound things… but not primarily Christ. And that is the trap. It is a trap because we are taught to think that when a sermon is well presented and is full of useful, helpful and applicable things, that it is therefore a good sermon. Ironically, such a sermon may qualify as a great resource and a good talk. It may be exactly what was needed to fix some problem in your life. It may be the words that cause people to improve in any number of areas. But it is not Christian if Christ is not the beginning, the focus and the sum. The trap and irony is that good, useful and true sermons often compete against authentically Christian sermons.
So start counting [and you may want read the following article for ways to count using a more sophisticated Clicker Test, scroll down to section VI.]. Evaluate sermons and see if they are good, yet devoid of Jesus. And beware when Christ is not preached. Not all preaching is preaching, so beware when useful and true things compete with the Man, Jesus.