For it is by grace you have been saved...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Practice What You Preach; or Preach What You Practice

I love to read magazines. The actual, sent to our home, hold in your hands, glossy page kind. All the electronic stuff is nice (I've fallen into the blog/facebook/email zone, though I've yet to tweet or flick anything). But like I said some time about about books, there's still something differnent about holding it in your hands and reading.

Anyway. One of the subscriptions that gets read cover to cover as soon as it arrives at our house is World Magazine. In fact, I usually have to fight our oldest for it. It's a wonderful sampling of world news and events from a solidly conservative, mostly Christian viewpoint. I'm getting to a point here, really.
The most recent edition of World included a piece by Andrée Seu called "The best sermon is the sermon as testimony." Being a preacher and all, it caught my attention. And I'm glad it did. This is a great little piece.

Ever since I was a little kid, I've heard the phrase "practice what you preach." Didn't have anything to do with preachers as far as I knew. It just meant that if you say it, you'd better do it. Still a good point. But Seu offers some excellent insight into the idea of "preaching what you practice."

In short, she says that the most powerful sermons, the most meaningful, the most life changing kinds of sermons, are those preached by men who have lived what they're talking about. I've said before that you have to experience grace to be able to really talk about it. That's the essence here. To preach about victory over temptation should come from a man who's been there and lived it, etc.

She writes: Let us have sermons that are testimonies rather than lectures. I want to hear about 2 Corinthians 3:17 from someone who walks in "freedom." I want to hear about Romans 5:17 from someone who is "reigning in life" and who can coach me to do the same. I'll gladly sit an hour for examples of how the preacher's faith enabled him to extinguish the flaming arrows of the wicked one (Ephesians 6:16).

Of course, she is not the first to point this out. In Richard Baxter's wonderul classic The Reformed Pastor, he also addresses the issue of preaching and life matching up. He wrote:

"It is a palpable error of some ministers, who make such a disproportion between their preaching and their living; who study hard to preach exactly, and study little or not at all to live exactly. All the week long is little enough, to study how to speak two hours; and yet one hour seems too much to study how to live all the week. They are loath to misplace a word in their sermons, or to be guilty of any notable infirmity, (and I blame them not, for the matter is holy and weighty,) but they make nothing of misplacing affections, words, and actions, in the course of their lives. Oh how curiously have I heard some men preach; and how carelessly have I seen them live!"

Anyway, I was moved and challenged by this short little essay. It would be good if you had your own World subscription, but at the least I would urge you to go and read the article HERE. Even if you aren't a pastor. All of us need to be reminded that we should practice what we preach and preach what we practice.


Gregg said...

Great post. Thanks!

Scott Weldon said...

And thanks to you, Gregg. I enjoyed the St. Patrick's Day post at your sight.

Applied Christianity said...

I kind of wish sermons were interactive- where you could ask the person talking questions about how this has influenced his life.

Scott Weldon said...

I have a friend who frequently (not sure how often) has a Q & A session after Sun. PM services. I'm sure it's designed more for asking theology/explanatory kinds of questions, but it would work for this as well. I've been praying about implementing something similar.