Wednesday, July 17, 2019


As a preacher the most frustrating thing about Jesus’ message of the Kingdom of God is that it is unpreachable. It cannot be directly communicated. It can only be hinted at obliquely. That is why Jesus didn’t preach sermons. He told stories – a unique type of stories called parables.

The word parable means literally “that which is thrown alongside.” It is something set alongside something else to shed light on it. Like a lamp placed beside a book. Parables both elucidate and hide the truth of the Kingdom of God. Jesus explained it this way when he was asked about his teaching method:

The disciples came and said to Jesus, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (Matthew 13:10-13)

In other words, if you see it, you see it. If you don’t, you don’t. There is not much that a preacher can do to help people see the Kingdom, which is already before their eyes, except to say: “Open your eyes!” That is the source of my frustration as a preacher. That is why the Christian Church very early abandoned the message of Jesus and substituted its own message. The gospel of Jesus became a gospel about Jesus.

Jesus’ original message about the Kingdom of God is just too hard to communicate. Sermons obfuscate rather than elucidate. As many sermons as I have preached in my lifetime, they all miss the point. That is why preachers have settled for talking about things like doctrines, ethics … and politics. Religion is so much easier to proclaim.

Sermons can’t communicate the Kingdom of God. Preachers can’t make people see the Kingdom of Heaven, which is all around us and within us. That takes grace. It is like trying to see your own eyes. You know they are there because you see everything else by them. But without a mirror, you can’t see them.

The only thing a preacher can do is hold up a mirror. But many people cringe at what they see in a mirror. It is too honest. So they turn away and search for some other teaching that is more palatable. And so all the various branches of Christianity are born. What is a preacher to do?

As I sit here on my back porch with God, the Presence of God is clear and unmistakable. As undeniable as the presence of my wife sitting in the wicker chair beside me. In fact God’s Presence is more certain, because my wife gets up and goes into the house to get a glass of iced tea, but the Lord is never absent. God is inescapable.

By the light of God I see everything else. Everything is an expression of God. Everything reflects God. Everything proclaims God. Genesis says that God spoke the cosmos into existence. That means that the cosmos is the Word of God – a Word much clearer and more direct than the Bible, where human words and ideas get in the way.

God is still speaking through this primordial Word. Yet people sit in the presence of this divine teaching and don’t hear it. They are surrounded by divine light and don’t see it. How does a preacher preach to help people see the obvious?

The only way is to teach like Jesus. By throwing down similes and metaphors that point to Truth, to shed light on that which is by nature Light. In the end all a preacher can really say is what Jesus said: “He who has eyes to see, let him see. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

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