I am a closet Athenian.

August 11, 2011 — Leave a comment

This is Part 2 of the Confessions of a Pastor series.

Acts 17:21 – (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)

Amongst my array of childhood heroes, there were always preachers who made the shortlist. My dad was a great preacher and I was privileged to be in the company of quite a host of preachers. I do have a top 5: a list that probably classes me as a raving fan. I love all types of preachers and preaching – but I do have my preference.

Anytime one of my top five preacher’s steps up to the pulpit – I am ready to hear something I’ve never heard before. Honestly, I am disappointed if I don’t. I enjoy new perspectives on an old passage of scripture. Take it out and twist it a bit and my itching ear will devour what it hears. Truthfully, this includes any preacher I listen to.

This isn’t a good mindset to have. Deep down it probably reveals that I’m somewhat spoiled. Information doesn’t equal transformation. Well beyond assimilating truths, I’ve developed a thirst for hearing something new. I’m working on it.

Our audiences these days are much harder to impact than they were before technology skyrocketed. Now anybody can listen anytime and anywhere to the best of the best bringing out their best. This puts a lot of pressure on any given preacher to deliver to his congregation scriptural revelation which will satiate the thirst that never can be quenched.

The bible did prophecy that the knowledge of God would cover the earth. Preaching is the passing on of biblical information which paints Jesus as the hero of the whole bible. The preacher was never intended to be the hero. Labeling preachers as such places us in the borderlands of idol worship. That’s not a good thing.

Habakkuk 2:14For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

Waves have their own ebb and flow. So does the spreading of truth. There must be a surging forward that is balanced by a solid ebbing. We need to hear revelation and balance the new thing by a return to foundational principles. If we only flow forward it takes the power and depth away from our surge.

Waves which only flow forward bring destruction, not development. These are the tidal waves and tsunami’s we’ve watched wreak havoc and ultimately dissipate leaving death and devastation in their wake.

Ebbing is essential; it turns preachers loose to reiterate the truths which produced our repentance in the first place. Ebbing is what allows the next surge forward to have depth and distance. This is meat and potatoes preaching. Dessert is sweet but it doesn’t make the body strong. Too much dessert and your stomach spoils. Not enough dessert and you dread meat and potatoes. We need them both.

Matthew 13:52Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

Jesus stated that both new and old treasure should be brought forth. They are both classified as treasure, and they are both necessary for Kingdom progress. It’s exciting to dig something new out of the treasure box that is the bible: it’s equally exciting to produce some old truth vital to every emerging disciple’s emergence.

So be on your tiptoes when your preacher introduces his subject. But stay on those toes if he preaches an old truth which got you off your back and onto your feet in the first place.

What about you?

Are you a closet Athenian?