Supplying the Fragrance of Christ to Others… Before Preaching

preach preacher preaching

Credit: Flickr user pigstyave (CC)

The American “church” landscape today has had and currently has an extreme focus on preaching.  Preaching is then mostly withheld to those who are considered “gifted”, and typically also those who are highly educated.

(I don’t have any issue as to the need of sound ,Christ-filled preaching and teaching, but I do see some issues with how preaching is practiced through much of Christianity today.  Perhaps I’ll expand on that in another post.)

I’ve known many brothers and sisters in Christ who have shared a desire to “preach the Word”.  Often times they find a small group or ministry of some kind that will agree to let them begin honing their preaching craft; however, they often find little resonance among their listeners and become discouraged.

The result is often a focus on more study, better illustrations, more humor, handing out outlines or fill-in-the-blank cards, changing the way you dress or look, and learning the latest pop-culture preaching gimmicks.

It seems to me that there is a missing, overlooked, and bypassed ingredient: it is simply to be built up into Christ with humility among other brothers and sisters as their equal, in mutually submissive community together, so that one become’s an expression of Christ’s own character as His Spirit gains free reign in one’s life.

Watchman Nee captures this thought beautifully in his book The Normal Christian Life:

Perhaps you may have been asking the Lord for a long time that he will be pleased to use you in such a way as to impart impressions of himself to others.  That prayer is not exactly for the gift or preaching or teaching.  It is rather that you might be able, in your touch with others, to impart God, the presence of God, the sense of God.  Let me tell you, dear friends, you cannot produce such impressions of God upon others without the breaking of everything, even your most precious possessions, at the feet of the Lord Jesus.

But if once that point is reached, you may or may not seem to be much used in an outward way, but God will begin to use you to create a hunger in others.  People will scent Christ in you.  The most unlikely people will detect that.  They will sense that here is one who has suffered, one who has not moved freely, independently, but who has known what it is to subject everything to him.  That kind of life creates impressions, and impressions create hunger, and hunger provokes men to go on seeking until they are brought by divine revelation into fullness of life in Christ.

God does not set us here first of all to preach or to do work for him.  The first thing for which he sets us here is to create in others a hunger for himself.  That is, after all, what prepares the soil for preaching.


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