Each week thousands of sermons are preached in churches. Some of the sermon preached would be good, many would be excellent and thought provoking, while lots of them would stretch the definition of the word “sermon” beyond limit. But predictably, there would be a number of good and godly pastors who on a given week stand at the pulpit and deliver like Apostle Paul. Well, how shall we say and react to this; when a sermon is over stretched?
Now let’s put some thought into how we should respond after we hear one. First and foremost know that error is like a poison; the subtlety, quickness, and force of its operation is often amazing, so how we respond to faithful preachers who deliver the occasional over stretched bible words is not by outright condemnation.
So how should we respond? Respect beget respect. When you hear a Gospel sermon, and it is not in all respects to your satisfaction, be not too hasty to lay the whole blame upon the preacher. Take a pause, think over it and consult the bible passages on the said topic. You can discuss with godly members rather than struggling with yourself or meet the pastor for further explanation. It is pardonable if it is occasional but when it is becoming multiple overstretchings, this is a signal for you to worry about the message from your pulpit.
Note that they are conscious of their warmest endeavors to proclaim the Savior’s glory, and sometimes they are burdened with such discouragements, that even their modern experience would push them against the biblical principles if they knew their case. For example; when opulence at pastoral level is justifiable with bible passages and at the same time no justification for such at followership level, this could be a signal for over stretching preaching to the members. There are no set of rules for pastors and another set of rules for you.
I have heard a pastor saying masturbation is not a sin, scientific explanations on it concur with the pastor but deep biblical understanding will tell you otherwise. Mathew 5:28 said:
“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” (Mathew 5:28)
Isn’t that exactly what masturbators think when they are in the mood? Visualizing a s-e-x scene is the same as lusting after a woman (or man). Also, if I may ask you: have you ever wondered if it’s only in Nigeria that we have anointing oil being used like magic wand in everything? Other Christian countries that I have been to are not doing so, though I have not visited all countries. But the bible says in James 5:14 :
“Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” (James 5:14)
Many churches now apply it on both the sick and the hale and hearty souls, indirectly making the oil an object of worship that will bring them healing or fortune. I called it talisman approach to Christian problem.
Do you pity your pastor? Think about the struggles, the sacrifices and the challenges your pastor faces on a regular basis. The demands of pastoral ministry and preaching are great. And on top of the demands, in many cases the pastor carries within himself a greater desire to serve you than he has the gifts to make it happen. This chronic disappointment is a terrible weight upon the soul of a faithful pastor.
Perhaps you thought too highly of the man, and expected too much from him. Perhaps you thought too meanly of him, and expected too little. In the former case, it looked like the Lord justly disappointed you; in the latter, you received according to your faith. Perhaps you neglected to pray for him; and then, though he might be useful to others, it is not at all strange that he was not so to you. Or possibly you have indulged trifling spirit, and brought willingness to receive the word of God and weakness upon your own soul; for which you had not been duly humbled, and the Lord chose that time to rebuke you.
When we hear a sermon over stretched what should we remember? Is it that:
- Our pastor is weak and sinful, and it’s quite likely that he is already aware of this without our help?; or
- Our pastor carries a heavy burden for the flock, and there is nothing he wants more than to serve the souls in his church (including you)?; or
- Our pastor benefits from our realistic expectations. We should neither puff him up as a celebrity and expect too much, nor diminish him and his gifts and expect too little?; or
- Our pastor needs our earnest attention and eager hearts on Sunday? How, then, can we be surprised that we gain so little, when our hearts arrive at church so dull with weekend party and easily distracted?; or
- Our pastor must have our prayers? We should appear at church having already prayed that God will bless the sermon and affect hearts with the gospel.
Sermons being over stretched are inevitable, but they are not the sole responsibility of the pastor. BUT
- If the sole aim is for personal gratification, beware;
- if it is for material acquisition, beware, and
- if it is overly exalting a particular member, also beware.
You however, have a very important role to play in filtering the teachings you hear by balancing God’s word from the pulpit with God’s word from the bible. Read your bible everyday if you want to help in sharpening others!