Peddling vs Preaching
Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ" (Acts 17:2-3).
Paul was not a showman–"I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom...my message and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom"–he did not rely on exhibitionism and theatrics, but plain old reasoning from the Scriptures.
Max Lucado has said, "No longer can we afford the luxury of thinking that the people who are sitting in our pews are going to be there every Sunday...We have to use every device possible to reach them and to teach them and we need not be so apologetic about ENTERTAINING them" (Preaching Magazine, July-August 2005, p. 14, emphasis mine).
Paul rebukes such charlatans. "Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God" (2 Cor. 2:17). He wasn't trying to sell tickets to an event or keep people "in the pews."
The megachurch "pastors" of today who "by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:18) spin the same yarn as their ancient counterparts, tickling the ears of eager victims who call for more–"Tell us a story, preacher! Tell us a joke! No, wait, tell us both!"
They're willing to hear anything, it seems, except the one who explains and proves Christ from the Scripture.
When the risen Christ walked with two disciples on the road to Emmaus, "He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself" (Lk. 24:27).
What was the result? "Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" (Lk. 24:32)
Honest hearts that hunger and thirst for righteousness are set aflame by the Scripture–they desire nothing else and settle for nothing less than the pure milk of the Word.
The spiritually weak and squeamish have a hard time squaring with lessons such as this, and the carnal outright disdain them. Let's resolve to be neither.
Indeed we never will be either, IF we hold fast to true food and true drink–the Word made flesh and His blessed Book that reveals His Way: "How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! From Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way" (Ps. 119:2-4)
If we ever find ourselves yearning for the flesh-pleasing exercises that are called "worship" today, may God send loving, competent Sword-wielding disciples to cut us in pieces...and restore us to Christ (Gal. 6:1-2). "Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it" (Ps. 141:5).