Skip to main content

Some days I'm not sure I know the first thing about Jesus

Last month a friend shared that he'd been teaching explicitly on grace but had implicitly taught the opposite of grace by making it too heavy and difficult, leaving his listener feeling unable to grasp it.

He'd been heartbroken to see how he'd inadvertantly perverted grace.

My friend humbly and helpfully challenged a sermon I'd preached where I'd used an overly intellectual introduction. I'd implicitly preached that the gospel is for smart people.

Heartbreaking. How does one preach the overwhelming love of Jesus while simultaneously saying that love isn't for everyone...

Some disclaimers help. I say this because I found this interesting. This might not help you and that's ok. You don't need to understand this. Self-deprecation helps - because really who am I! I'm the oddball in the room, not you...

It's not just what I say, it is the way that I say it.
Jesus didn't turn children away so why should my sermon do that?

Like Paul said in 1 Timothy 1, All I have is the mercy I've received.

I'm not a clever person who has solved a gospel puzzle. Yet my words can suggest that.

What kind of gospel do my words convey?

What kind of gospel does my life preach?

When I fail to have a generous attitude to other believers or when I fail to be finanically generous... what am I saying: I'm not generous because my god isn't? Or that I'm ok to receive divine generosity but then not show the same to others?

What kind of gospel are my words and my life preaching?

When I fail to be compassionate to my three year old son as he wrestles with his sinful heart (not that he'd describe it that way) what am I saying... it's ok for God to be my Heavenly Father to show compassion to me, but unnecessary for me to be a compassionate father?

Some days I'm not sure I know the first thing about the gospel. Or at least that's how it looks.

I want to know Jesus.


  1. Amen amen - feeling this too. Who is equal to such a task?

  2. So true Bish. Great to see it voiced, thank you.

  3. You make some very good points here, and an overly intellectual gospel is definitely a problem for a discipline like theology that ranges extensively over history, philosophy, art, and pastoral ministry. I'm just reading David Bentley Hart's The Beauty of the Infinite, and as amazing as it is (and it really is) it requires all my brain power to follow the text. Are these insights not open to non-academics/intellectuals? They should be.

    However, I would say that the truth of the gospel can only be revealed to us by the Holy Spirit anyway, in spite of a preacher's best or worst efforts. It is so contrary to our nature that it takes supernatural insight to grasp it (or rather be grasped by it). This doesn't let any of us off the hook, but it does mean that the task of preaching does not fall wholly to the preacher.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

"Big eyes full of wonder"

Books. Fiction. Libraries. Second only to churches as are the best gateways in your community to ultimate reality and new possibilities.

Our local library has just re-opened after refurbishment, and I love that our boys have spent several mornings there during the summer holidays, discovering some wonderful new stories.

I realised a few months back that I wasn't reading enough fiction. My work necessitates reading a lot of non-fiction, a mix of historical and contemporary thinking, biblical studies and theology. But fiction is the cinderella. Easily overlooked, and yet able to awaken my imagination and show me the way things are meant to be.

So I've picked up a few more lately - bought and borrowed. Not every book attempted flies, and that's ok. These have been winners though.

Ink. This is Alice Broadway's debut novel. It's young adult fiction and tells the story of Leora who lives in a world where the events of your life are tattooed on your skin. Nothing gets hid…

Uniquely Matthew

Reading gospel accounts in parallel is sometimes used to blur the differences in perspective between the evangelists, seeking to harmonise the texts and find a definitive historical account of what happened. No such thing exists because every account is biased and limited. You simply can't record everything. You have to hold a vantage point. And that's not a problem.

Matthew, Mark and Luke take a very different vantage point to John who was of course an eyewitness himself of the events. Comparing the text of Matthew, Mark and Luke across the death and resurrection of Jesus yields two steps.

Firstly, the common ground. All three accounts tell of...
Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross…. · Jesus labelled as King of the Jews…. · Criminals crucified with Jesus… · Darkness in the daytime… · Jesus' loud final cry… The women who witnessed Jesus death, and Jesus' burial… · The tomb lent to Jesus by Joseph of Arimithea… · The women who went to the tomb on the morning of the…

Songs we're singing in Church

Christians are a singing people, it's part of what we do when we gather.

Our church meets morning an evening on a Sunday - normally using 5 songs in each service. So, over the year that's about 520 song-slots available. The report from the database system we use ( tells us that in the past year we've sung about 150 different songs.

Our current most used song has been sung 11 times in the last year, just under once a month. Our top 10 are used about every 6 weeks. By #30 we're talking about songs used every two months. The tail is long and includes loads of classic hymns from across the centuries, plus other songs from the past 40 years, that we have used around once a term or less.

1. Rejoice - Dustin Kensrue

2. Come Praise & Glorify - Bob Kauflin

3. Man of Sorrows - Hillsong

4. Cornerstone - Hillsong

Rejoice was a song I didn't previously know, along with a couple of others that have quickly become firm favourites for me: Chri…