“You’re really semi-Pelagian.”
I don’t know about you, but being compared to heretics is one of my least favorite things about being a pastor. And what had I done to deserve this remark? I had encouraged people to emulate the example of Christ in the Gospel of Mark as we preached through the book verse-by-verse.
As I pondered the allegation against me, I had to ask myself, “How did he (my disgruntled congregant) get there?” What I found in his careless words was not that I was actually a heretic, but that I lacked balance in my preaching.
Get Your Preaching Out of the Gutter
Over the previous few weeks, I had emphasized the necessity to emulate the example of Christ (Philippians 2:5) in the faithful walk of a Christian. But as I reflected, I saw that I had neglected to stress the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit in the Christian life, as we follow Jesus.
Over or underemphasizing certain elements of our application of the biblical text is a trap many of us who preach regularly are prone to fall into if we are not careful. We can often become so familiar with the text we are expounding — the context around it, and the application of it — we lean a little too heavy into our emphasis and get caught in a gutter.
This gutter might be preaching against a type of sin over and over. Such a repetitive message, potentially needed for your people, fails to trust that once you’ve covered it a few times, the Holy Spirit will do the work to bring about conviction in the hearts of the congregation. We might focus too much on a particular virtue to the neglect of others. When we overemphasize, even the greatest virtue can become dull in the ears of our listeners.
Becoming Aware of Your Imbalance
We would all do well to think critically about balance in our preaching and to invite critique from wise and trusted counselors.
Ultimately, I pray we would all become more self-aware preachers. Aware of our own proclivity to lean away from bringing balance as we preach the whole Gospel and to trust the Lord more for the fruit.
As I reflect, I desire not to preach against only one type of sin, nor one expression of virtue. But to preach the whole Gospel and the resurrected Christ in such a way that exhorts against all sin and exults all virtue. If we are able to do this, I believe we will be blessed by good spiritual fruit in our people as we grow into the fullness of holiness as a body.