As a pastor these days there’s such a strong temptation to provide only the tickle and never the terror from the pulpit. To be serious or impassioned in any manner that doesn’t produce ease, laughter or a general sense of wellbeing when exiting church, leaves one vulnerable to the charge of being too hard, harsh or heavy.
To be ‘un’-loving…is one of the worst accusations today, it is the postmodern’s anathema and I see people bowing to its emotional inquisition all around me from pulpit to pew.
Sometimes I grow weary of the weight of His words within me. I would wish at times to trade the terror for the tickle if I could. To quench the fires within that burn hot to a reality of fire looming on the edges of eternity but as of yet, by God’s grace, I can’t.
I stand as an outsider, not willingly, not wishfully, not out of pleasure, but out of the conviction of a truth that the times are infusing a soul-numbing, cultural chloroform, rendering on the masses a powerful delusion that exalts the Self as Jehovah and Christ as Beelzebub.
The aversion to any manner of witness that deviates from the smooth jazz of this present darkness is audible in the growl and bark of the agitated assembly.
The Pulpit as forge has been replaced with the Massage therapist’s couch. The fire has been cooled, the hammer silent, the anvil no longer sparks and the quality of steel is evident by the conquered of Christendom.
In the theater of today’s churchianity I am prone to think I am in a fever of my own making, lulled to lighten the mood, brighten the lights and replace the drum for the harp, until…I hear the voices of the dead.
Thank God for the pen that writes with Lazarus ink, it’s words blow away the clouds of confusion, conformity, and complacency and in its fresh breeze, I am brought back to my senses.
On the Heaviness of Words…from Homily 6 on Philippians by John Chrysostom (349-407)
“I know that many hear me say these things with pain, and indeed it is not without pain I say them. But why need I say these things? I could wish the things concerning the kingdom to be ever my discourse, of the rest, of the waters of rest, of the green pastures, as the Scripture says, He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters Psalm 23:2, there He makes me to dwell.
I could wish to speak of the place, whence sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Isaiah 51:11, I could wish to discourse of the pleasures of being with Christ, though they pass all expression and all understanding. Yet would I speak of these things according to my power.
But what shall I do? It is not possible to speak concerning a kingdom to one that is diseased and in fever; then we must needs speak of health. It is not possible to speak of honor to one that is brought to trial, for at that time his desire is that he be freed from judgment, and penalty, and punishment. If this be not effected, how shall the other be?
It is for this cause that I am continually speaking of these things, that we may the sooner pass over to those other. For this cause does God threaten hell, that none may fall into hell, that we all may obtain the kingdom; for this cause we too make mention continually of hell, that we may thrust you onward towards the kingdom, that when we have softened your minds by fear, we may bring you to act worthily of the kingdom.
Be not then displeased at the heaviness of our words, for the heaviness of these words lightens our souls from sin. Iron is heavy, and the hammer is heavy, but it forms vessels fit for use, both of gold and silver, and straightens things which are crooked; and if it were not heavy, it would have no power to straighten the distorted substance.
Thus too our heavy speech has power to bring the soul into its proper tone. Let us not then flee from heaviness of speech, nor the strokes it gives; the stroke is not given that it may break in pieces or tear the soul, but to straighten it.
We know how we strike, how by the grace of God we inflict the stroke, so as not to crush the vessel, but to polish it, to render it straight, and meet for the Master’s use, to offer it glittering in soundness, skillfully wrought against that Day of the river of fire, to offer it having no need of that burning pile.”