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Preaching That Disturbs

Most people have heard the old saying that the preacher's job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. But in this day of padded pews the latter has sometimes proven difficult for preachers to do. Like God's people of old in Amos 6:1, many are at ease in Zion, and they don't want it any other way.  A preacher was annoyed by an unknown old gentleman who fell asleep every Sunday during the sermon. One day on the street he saw a lad who always accompanied the old man and asked the youngster who the old fellow was. "Oh, that's grandpa," said the boy. "Tell you what," suggested the preacher, "if you will keep him awake during the sermon I'll give you a quarter every week." The boy agreed and for two weeks the old gentleman stayed awake and attentive during the preaching. The third week, however, he reverted back to his old ways and went to sleep again during the preaching. After worship, the preacher spoke to the boy and asked, "Didn't you agree to keep your grandpa awake every Sunday for a quarter?" The boy replied, "Yes, Sir, I did, but now Grandpa gives me 50 cents not to disturb him." 

When was the last time a preacher disturbed you? The apostle Paul was a disturbing preacher. As the old adage goes, what he preached left people either mad, sad, or glad, but it never left them alone or the same. If you don't believe that, take time to read of Paul's ministry in the ancient Asian city of Ephesus as recorded in Acts 19. That huge, cosmopolitan city was a major center of trade, commerce, immorality, superstition, and false religion — an ancient version of New York City or Los Angeles or Miami, etc., with all the good and bad that goes with them. Paul's preaching and ministry there was so powerful and effective that "all Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus. . .fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.... the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed" (Acts 19:10, 17, 20). But there is a fly in the ointment, for in verse 23 we read, "there arose a great commotion about the Way." The King James Version says, "there arose no small stir about that way," and the NIV renders it, "there arose a great disturbance about the Way." Read the account in full and you learn Paul's preaching disturbed some who were profiting from superstition and false religion. Before the chapter is over Paul had to leave town or risk being killed by a confused, angry, unruly mob stirred up by those who were disturbed by what Paul was preaching. Acts 20:1 refers to the whole sordid thing as an "uproar." How about it? Has a preacher ever disturbed you by what he preached? Has a sermon ever caused a riot, at least in your heart? Preaching what the Bible says will still disturb some people. The Bible addresses such controversial topics as money, sexual behavior (and misbehavior, including homosexuality and adultery), divorce, drunkenness, etc. Preaching that emphasizes one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God disturbs those who insist there are many (or none) of each of these. The offense of Christ's cross has not ceased, and must not cease. Preaching "the Way" that is God's Way will always disturb a world that insists on having its own way. God give us more preachers to disturb us.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ