For years I was caught up in the “entertainment” of preaching. I wanted to grab people’s attention, make them laugh, and hope they learned something along the way. After awhile, though, I realized that people were remembering the jokes and the gimmicks, but not the actual messages.
Now, I haven’t given up on the occasional joke altogether, but I have concentrated more on the content of the sermon than going for the comments on the sermon. I’m hoping we’ve moved from milk to meat.
I thought of that as I was looking back over my notes from the AiG Family Conference in Branson. I especially thought of it as I reflected on my notes on Voddie Baucham’s messages. Because while I took good notes and gained some very insightful truths, the things that stick out in my mind without checking those notes are the one-liners.
Things like his reference to a new Christian friend as “a new brother from another mother.” Or the admonition to “suck it up…don’t tell me about the pain, just show me the baby.” And my favorite, speaking of children and original sin: “No matter how cute that thing is, it’s still a viper in a diaper.”
Now, this isn’t to comment on the use of humor in preaching. After all, Charles Spurgeon wrote that “I must confess that I would rather hear people: laugh than I would see them asleep in the house of God . . . I do believe, in my heart, that there may be as much holiness in a laugh as in a cry.” And Baucham’s use is appropriate and minor in comparison to the amount of “meat” he offers. I guess it’s just human nature to focus on those zingers.
The point, I guess, is that sometimes the little one liners sticking in your brain can be more “meaty” than we might realize. The one line that keeps coming back to me was in a message Voddie brought on “The Person of Christ.” It was a wonderful exposition of 1 Corinthians 15 and Paul’s defense of the resurrection. And I do remember the solid meat of that message: Paul’s arguments from Authority, Evidence and Logic. I especially enjoyed bringing to the forefront the often overlooked truth that we have more written evidence for Christ’s resurrection than we do for the existence of Socrates, but no one ever calls the latter in to question.
But the one line that jumps out is this: Is It Bigger Than a Dead Jesus? After spending the bulk of the message defending the reality of the resurrection, the application was then made that regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in, it can’t possible be a more “difficult” situation than a dead Christ. And if God can raise Christ, what are you afraid of? Could your problem possibly be bigger than a dead Jesus? Catchy phrase; powerful truth.
I have a tendency toward anxiety. I know it’s sinful. I know it’s a lack of faith. I know it’s outright disobedience. But I still struggle. I memorize verses like Philippians 4:6-7 which commands me outright to not be anxious about anything. I memorize helpful, encouraging words like Isaiah 41:13 which promises God’s upholding hand, along with another command not to fear. And God is working on this problem in me.
And please don’t hear me saying that a one liner from Voddie Baucham is more powerful, effective, etc. than the Word of God. After all, he’s just summarizing the truth of God’s Word, pointing to its promises and power. But I’ve found that line helpful: Is it Bigger Than A Dead Jesus? Obviously the answer is “no.”
So I say all that to say this. I just want to encourage anyone who might stop by out of boredom and read this. No matter what you might be facing, it’s certainly not bigger than a dead Christ. If Christ is raised, then what are you afraid of? If God can handle that situation, well…