Recently I watched a YouTube Clip entitled “Billy Graham at His Best.” It was amazing to see and hear the greatest evangelist of the twentieth century preaching with such passion. Most of the clips were in black and white. His hair and tie flapped in the wind as he poured out his heart while his hand forcefully chopped through the air. He was a man on a mission.
But there was something in what he said which caught my attention: his message. Of course Billy Graham is famous for saying “the Bible says.” But that was not what stopped me in my mental tracks. It was this: he spoke primarily about Jesus. Again and again he spoke The Name.
My reaction surprised me. “Why did this capture my attention? It’s almost as if he was doing something unique.” And then it hit me. Many of the sermons I have heard today rarely mention the name of Jesus. This, sadly, includes a few sermons that I have preached.
Many sermons today deal with the felt needs of people. You have heard numerous sermons like these: “How To Have The Best Day Ever,” “How To Be A Happy Christian,” “Finding Your Sweet Spot,” “How To Smile Really Big and Get Rich.” (Yes, the last sermon probably never has been given that title but it is being preached!)
What concerns me is that a fair amount of preaching being delivered on Sunday mornings could be preached by the President of the Optimists’ Club or even an atheist. Too often the goal in preaching has been to make people feel good while they are being entertained. But that is not the calling of a preacher. Nor is making people feel good the calling of the Church. We ought never forget that the goal of preaching and the goal of the Church is not to make people feel good but to make them good.
So my own heart has been challenged to do everything I can to focus on preaching Christ crucified, dead, and resurrected. When we have that good news to share why would we settle for preaching solely about stubbed toes and hurt feelings? Preaching is, above all else, a Christological imperative!
If you are interested in seeing the Billy Graham youtube clip that inspired my thoughts click HERE.