Galaxies and Glitter: A Parable on Preaching

Imagine enrolling in a course on astronomy. Say you’re curious about what’s out there—the identity of prominent stars, the vastness of the Milky Way, and so on. You want to be able to point out more than the moon and the Big Dipper. As the class approaches, you anticipate looking through powerful telescopes at the immeasurable heavens. At the very least, you look forward to leaning back in a planetarium and learning about the night sky. Now imagine what you’d feel if, on the first day of class, the professor hands each student a piece of black construction paper and a glue stick. Imagine that he gives instructions about scribbling out a gluey design, following which he makes the rounds with glitter, giving you a “Starry Sky” craft to take home. You signed up for POLARIS; you got Pinterest. Now imagine that, instead of teaching you astronomy, he reads to you a nursery rhyme: “The cow jumped over the moon…” 

You’d be angry. You’d feel cheated. You’d feel like the professor had the opportunity to deal with things vast and majestic, but instead shirked his duty and opted to treat you like a child. You’d demand a refund. You’d never go back. And you’d be right.

Sadly, that’s a lot like what’s happening in churches all over the world. Pastors have immensely great topics to address: the creative power of God, the love of God, the Trinity, the Incarnation, the words and works of Christ, the crucifixion, the resurrection, the return of Christ—and that’s just for starters. And yet too many would-be preachers neglect these grand themes to deliver the equivalent of children’s crafts. Self-help talks. Anecdotes. Jokes. Feel-good stories about positivity and overcoming adversity. Sermonic glitter.

Don’t settle for crafts when the universe of the Scriptures is in your hands

Scripture commands those who are entrusted with God’s Word and Jesus’ Church to “preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:1-2). Why? Because the Word is God-breathed, and therefore life-changing (3:16). Because the Word teaches people about salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (3:15). Because the Word teaches, reproves, corrects, and instructs God’s people in righteousness so they can grow into maturity and be prepared for ministry (3:17). We have THAT Bible in our hands. So why would we preach anything else?

Yes, there will always be those who want the preacher to tickle their ears (4:3). Some people like glitter, oddly enough. But there will be always be those who hunger to hear about BIG, BIBLICAL themes—eternal realities rather than foolish fables. Preacher friends, we have the Word of God, and it is nothing short of spectacular. I agree that it’s a travesty to bore people with the Bible. But as glorious as the Bible is, that should be almost hard to do! With all the fire, all the wonder, and all the passion of one who has studied the stars and can actually help people get there, preach the glories of the inspired, inerrant, and sufficient Word. Don’t settle for crafts when the universe of the Scriptures is in your hands. “Preach the Word,” by God’s grace!

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