Life-Style or Christ's Smile?
Much effort from the pulpit is directed toward putting a Biblical slant on issues of everyday life. Relationships and families. Finances. Child rearing. Dealing with conflict. Dealing with low self-esteem. Forgiving oneself for past stumblings. Dealing with satanic attack. Problematic attitudes. Establishing a balanced work ethic.
The intention is to make the sermon "now" and relevant and helpful to the life priorities of the audience. Giving them what they want. The epistles of the New Testament come in handy. The how-to lists are drafted with their alliterated sub-headings. The whole thing has the tone of a lecture.
BUT IT IS NOT BREAD!
Christ is the Living Bread. He must always have the pre-eminence as the preacher delivers his burden. The Four Gospels must be the staple (and perhaps the Letter to the Hebrews). They portray the most compassionate, patient, helpful, authoritative and hope-inspiring of all lives. They put flesh on the concepts of Elder Brother, Rescuer, Shepherd, Rabbi, Priest and Prophet.
When the trouble comes I cannot lean upon a lecture of ethics. I must have an overcoming relationship with the Captain of our salvation, the Anchor of our hope, the Firstborn from the dead. I will remember the faithful preacher who depicted such a One for me, and provoked me to yet more redeeming meditations and prayer life in private; more helpful activity in public.
Every believer should have for private use a good exposition of the life of Christ drawing from all Gospels and establishing the overview (Farrar, Stalker, Pollock, MacLaren, Campbell Morgan).
The imperative of the Gospel is not "learn this" or "learn that"; rather it is "Come." "Learn of me." "Follow me." The one who gives priority to this imperative will always cause the Master to smile. And that smile felt is worth worlds.