Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Your Special Sauce Isn't Necessary

Some time back, an elder minister friend whom I held in very high esteem was teaching a large group of young people; I was in the classroom when this happened (although I certainly wasn't one of the 'young people'!) so this is not a "I heard it through the grapevine" story.

During the course of his lesson, my friend started telling the openly-debunked story of kidney harvesters. (Remember the old internet stories about waking up in a bathtub full of ice, with IVs attached?). I hesitated to interrupt him (he was an elder, after all, and was in the middle of teaching a class full of young, impressionable kids), but didn't want him to tell a story that most of those kids either knew - or would find out - was simply not true, so I finally interrupted him and said, "That story is actually known to be an urban legend and never really happened." His reply, as he held up a "Don't stop me now" hand, was "Bro. Shubert, you may be right, but it's still a great story, and I want to tell it for the impact..."

He lost "Hero" status in my eyes that day, giving in—I hope only momentarily—to the old "Never let truth stand in the way of a good story" adage.

As preachers, we all have a tendency to embellish, for whatever reasons. Maybe we like the shock effect; maybe we're trying to use a "Soup For The Soul" story to encourage someone; perhaps we're trying desperately to reach that one life that's hanging by a thread...

But can we really justify altering - or embellishing - the Word of God just for the sake of doing what, in reality, only God can do? We are not called to save souls; only God can do that. No amount of pleading, begging, cajoling, or mesmerizing preaching on my part will ever save a life or change a heart.

We are called to be His messengers; that means running with the message that He - the King of Glory - has given us. We are not given the liberty or justification to change, alter, embellish, or diminish the message: just deliver it.

The Word of God, ladies and gentlemen, will stand on its own. There is no need for me to add my own "special sauce" for it to do what only it can do. It saves, delivers, heals, changes, and liberates lives on its own merit. Let us always be mindful of the awesome power of God's Word, and let us preach with fear, reverence, and honor the undiluted Word of God.

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