Every pastor is simply a messenger boy. As John Piper says, “Brethren, we are not professionals.” And yet, as simple messengers, we are entrusted with the most important message to mankind–the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Heaven’s glory rests upon our calling and upon our communication. In one true sense, we are all wordsmiths, forging the expression of words to present the gospel with the majesty it deserves.
Learning some of the nuances of homiletics, speaking methodologies and audience perceptions are beneficial, as material has been written about these issues since the age of the early church fathers. However, we must never get trapped into a style that is foreign to our gifts and uniqueness. Because of the diverse placement of gifts in each pastor, each of us are a ‘little different’ and that difference is where we find our authenticity and freedom.
As important as understanding some of these issues are, there is one truth that trumps them all. Before standing before an audience, before opening God’s Word, before opening prayer or beginning a message, let us make sure we have freshly visited the empty tomb of Christ. Few things are as sad as a passionless minister delivering a passionless message to those looking for passion in life. It is the ultimate dumb-downed communication.
By getting alone with the Lord in prayer we visit the empty tomb of Jesus. We reflect again upon the majesty of His teachings, but more importantly, we reflect upon the reality that He is Alive! His resurrection is our passion…it is the cornerstone of our faith…it is our hope. If Jesus came out of that tomb alive, and we know He did, then the words we carry are not the words of man but the message from the risen Lamb of God, and the souls of men are depending upon that message for eternal life.
Let us never go to the pulpit without first visiting the tomb, because the emptiness of that tomb reminds us of the importance of the message to the hearers. Holy passion doesn’t come from a worked up mind game. Instead, it comes from time alone with Christ at the empty tomb and being reminded of the glory of the message we share.
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)