[forthright] Gone to Meddlin'

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From: Forthright Magazine <ba@...>
Date: Wed, 27 Oct 2004 16:00:19 -0500
Forthright Magazine
http://www.forthright.net
Straight to the Cross


COLUMN: Reality Check

Gone to Meddlin'
by Stan Mitchell

One of my elders used this familiar phrase Sunday
-- you know the one. "Preacher, you quit preachin'
and gone to meddlin'." It's a sad day when
preaching meddles in our marriages, meddles in our
work ethics, meddles in our use of money. Of
course that elder was kidding. But I like the
phrase because it says something important. There
is an idea out there, not quite said but believed
nonetheless, that preaching isn't supposed to
actually demand lifestyle changes, commitment, or
repentance.

It's not supposed to suggest that some actions are
morally wrong, or that if there are true teachings
there must be false teachings, too. It's not
supposed to proclaim that there is a right way and
a wrong way, or worse, that there is just one way,
one truth, and one life (John 14:6). That's so
exclusive! We need to include all kinds of
lifestyles! "Talk about theology, or esoteric
subjects like how many angels can stand on the
head of a pin. But don't talk about the sin within
the audience. Demand change in worship, but don't
demand change in hearts. Criticize the church of
Christ, but don't criticize the sin in the lives
of those who hear. Point out hypocrisy in church
leaders, but don't point it out in us!"

"Heaven has only one sermon -- repentance," says
Charles Hodge, "Sinners cannot return to God with
their sins. The good news begins with bad news!
Peter's first command on Pentecost was 'repent'
(Acts 2:38)." (Gospel Advocate, October, 2002).

Sometimes a sermon's intent is to inspire;
sometimes its intent is to motivate; sometimes its
intent is to comfort. And sometimes, beloved, its
intent is to bring about repentance.

"In those days, John the Baptist came, preaching
in the desert of Judea and saying, 'Repent for the
kingdom of Heaven is near!'" (Matthew 3:1,2). So
in a word, if it isn't meddling, it isn't
preaching!

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