It’s unbelievable the kind of stuff that is churned out Sunday after Sunday in pulpits all over the world. I’ll bet if God put Bill Gates in charge of the quality control of sermons, things will be done somewhat differently.
Old Bill would probably hunt down the 10 best preachers in the world. He would hook them up on some new fangled Microsoft product. And congregations would hear the best sermons from the best preachers every Sunday. (Of course some will hear them in real time, while others would hear delayed broadcasts depending on what time zone you were in.)
Bill Gates is NOT in charge of sermon quality control. And Sunday after Sunday, preachers – the mad fools – step up behind their pulpits to dish out sermons with questionable exegesis, doubtful theology, irrelevant illustrations, dubious applications – all in the Name of the Almighty – and are not struck dead.
As Annie Dillard puts it:
“A high school stage play is more polished than this service we have been rehearsing since year one. In two thousand years we have not worked out the kinks. We positively glorify them.
Week after week we witness the same miracle: that God is so mighty he can stifle his own laughter. Week after week, we witness the same miracle: that God, for reasons unfathomable, refrains from blowing our dancing bear act to smithereens.”
Just what is God up to? Does He need a refresher course in TQM?
Maybe. Maybe not.
St. Paul was fully aware of this madness. In 2 Corinthians 4:7 he writes:
‘But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.’
I put it to you that even the most eloquent preacher preaching the most polished sermon would not even begin to do justice to the glory of the gospel. For the best preacher is at best a jar of clay.
We so easily forget that the crux of the gospel is grace.
So every Sunday we are subjected to this glaring mismatch.
The Almighty chooses to speak through earthen vessels.
So there will be no confusion.
The Almighty dwells among the broken.
There is hope for all of us.