Are you Hungry for the truth? Job declared that he considered the word of God, “more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12). If you are a teacher of some kind in the Church (preacher, sunday school, family), do you ever wonder if their is that kind of hunger out their anymore today? Are their people who will gobble up your faithful explanation of the word the way Fred put down a brontosaurus burger?
Many Christians today are desperately hungry for Biblical truth, especially in regard to “major” issues. Should Christians in our materialistic culture who frequently give Christ the left overs be taught that materialism is at enmity with their Faith? Should the first Chapters of Genesis be ignored, or do they form the foundation for all Christian beliefs. Unfortunately, it seems that a number of leaders shy away from addressing controversial subjects, either from a desire not to offend, or from a lack of clarity in their own minds regarding these teachings.
But Christians are also likely to be “filled up” by passages they never expected to appeal to them. In my role as a local Church pastor, I try to teach the “full counsel of God”. Last week I preached on Matthew 12:46-50, a passage that is at first blush presents a challenge to the interpreter. Why is Jesus family looking for him? Why does Jesus appear to dis his own mother? After the message I was given some feedback regarding the sermon, which though it was preached on a passage few would ever spend time studying themselves was very helpful after all. That is the beauty of consecutive Bible exposition. This little paragraph at the end of Matthew twelve turns out, in the words of S. Lewis Johnson, to be “one of the most important descriptions of true believers relationship to one another in the whole bible” (link).
At Grace, we post our sermons on a few different formats. We have an audio podcast available through itunes, or directly off our website. One of our members has added us on his account at Sermon Audio dot com. We also post video to vimeo, through our Grace Appeal channel. Unbeknownst to us, these links made for the benefit of our members have had a fairly wide distribution outside of our Church, and around the world. I became curious, and decided to do a little bit of study on our statistics. While doing this review, I looked to see what topics were the most frequently accessed.
The top three messages across the various platforms include:
1) Authenticity Vs. Materialism (a study of Matthew 8:18-34) It asks the question, “When is a believer not a believer, and when is a disciple not a disciple?” It seeks to show how a believer can be confident of his or her own salvation. Authentic faith appears to be a great struggle with believers in a materialistic culture. One would think that this would be primarily a North American phenomenon, yet to my surprise, while it was still a top selection here, this message was mostly accessed oversees, the largest group being in Indonesia. What is it that made this message to significant in that culture? It is primarily accessed through Sermon Audio and receives less attention in our other mediums (video link, audio).
2) Creation’s World (based on Genesis 1:1) provides an intro and overview of the issues of the Genesis account, “Fact or fiction?” and it aims to affirm the believers faith in the Scripture and provide a foundation for addressing the modern conflict, so called, between faith and science. This message has been very popular in North America, and is consistently downloaded throughout all our various mediums. It was the most “shared” resource on facebook we had this past year (video link, audio).
3) A number of other messages were close to these, including our most popular vimeo feed The King’s Test (based on Matthew 4:1-11) it shows how the human race was plunged into war, chaos, hopelessness and sin, through the machinations of the Devil. Only the true Messiah can defeat him. It answers the question: “How did Jesus fare in his greatest test?” by showing a powerful evidence of his identity as the Son of God and Saviour of the world (video link, audio).
What do I take from this review as a pastor who is called on to preach week after week? Overall, it seems to me that people are looking for something less uncertain than material things, more certain than changing philosophies of origins, and they want to know if Jesus really is the answer to those things. It is my commission to proclaim the Kingdom of God in all its fullness, the good news of Jesus Christ bringing hope now, and fulfillment of all that we were created for in the future. It encourages me to preach on the hard topics, and not to shy away from exploring them, but to remain faithful to proclaiming “the full council of God”.