In case you missed October’s article, we talked about the why of church attendance, which involves preparing ourselves before we get there so we can receive the benefits of our attendance.
Two benefits were mentioned, spiritual edification and knowledge of the word of God. Today, we want to elaborate on those, both of which come from the preached word.
In my view, preaching time is the highlight of the church service. We should all wait with anticipation for that time to arrive, because that’s the time of edification and enlightenment.
We should give the preacher our undivided attention, expecting that he lives up to his purpose. But, we shouldn’t take it for granted that he has; that what we heard was the word rightly divided.
Just as we should prepare before entering the church building, the preacher should likewise prepare himself before approaching the sacred desk. Unfortunately, there are those who do not adequately prepare.
Unless we are scripturally savvy, we may not recognize the prepared ones from the unprepared. But, don’t worry. Paul has given us a way to solve the problem.
Paul’s advice is clearly given in the first three words of 1Thessalonians 5:21,“Prove all things.” In other words, check out the preacher, whether his interpretation is right on spot.
That requires discipline and effort to study the word for yourself but it’s worth every minute of your time. The idea is to enter the sanctuary a scripturally savvy person.
The rest of the verse gives us the conclusion of Paul’s advice; “hold fast to that which is good.”
Once your examination is complete, accept and internalize those portions of the sermon you have found to be sound doctrine. You always want to leave the sanctuary after the benediction feeling that you have been edified and enlightened. If you don’t, the preacher has failed you.
I want to conclude with a little four-line poem I found a few years ago. It appeared in a publication I can’t recall today. The author was not identified but in these few simple words he left a profound message for us all, both clergy and laymen.
“It’s easier to preach than to practice; it’s easier to say than to do. Most sermons are heard by the many, but taken to heart by the few.”
The messages: for clergy, practice what you preach; for the laymen, take the word of God seriously.
Rev. O.L. Johnson, a retired LAPD lieutenant, is an associate pastor in his home church, Greater New Zion Baptist, 501 W. 80th St. in Los Angeles.
Pastor’s Corner is a monthly religious column that looks at the relevancy of scripture to life today. The column appears on the first Thursday of each month in the Wave and its website, www.wavenewspapers.com.