Jesus sprinkles

Luke 21:34-22:6
My wife and I were talking sermons.

Last week, she told me about a message she heard from another preacher about marriage. I listened as she shared the main illustration. It was a good one. She teared up. My response went a different direction than hers.

I didn’t know, but I had my preacher hat on. As such, I struggled with the sermon. No, I hadn’t heard it, but I’ve heard plenty like it. My question was, Where is the gospel?

I realize this may sound critical. You might say I’m overthinking it. But what we preach matters. On the flip side, what we hear matters.

I’ve had my fill of topical sermons. These are the ones dedicated to marriage, raising kids or managing finances. I’ve heard the sermons about how to fix your life, stay positive and manage stress. For some diabolical reason, the church has long been a place you couldn’t talk about mental health. Well, you could tell people to pray and focus on Jesus. Now, though, there are more sermons dedicated to the topic.

Let me say, the Lord cares about these issues because they are a part of our life. And we need to have meaningful conversations about them all, and the many more life issues that arise.

But my question is still, Where is the gospel?

So many of the topical sermons I’ve heard sprinkle Jesus on top of another message. It feels like the preacher wanted a particular topic. One that would interest people. One they were already talking about. She then went to the Bible concordance to find a verse that might include the word. Maybe even two verses.

From there, all she had to do was find a good illustration and say that Jesus cares about your (fill in the blank). Again, Jesus does. But if Jesus is the sprinkle, that means he’s only extra.

A lot of us preachers missed our calling as life coaches, apparently. In all frankness, it’s dangerous when we see ourselves as therapists and counselors. Now, if we have the training, that’s different. If not, our topical sermons sound more like pop psychology. They’re wannabe motivational speeches. Depending on the preacher, they’re barely good ones.

I call these sermons Jesus sprinkles.

Now, I’m a bit cynical. My guess is topical sermons are easy to sell. No one is dying to hear a message about giving up your life to follow Jesus. I can get more people in the pews if I talk about what really interests them.

You may get them to church, but will you get them to Jesus? Will Jesus be the priority of our worship and devotion? Besides the songs we sing, I mean will we make Jesus the center of our lives? Sprinkling Jesus on top of quasi-therapy will not help us. We won’t even realize we haven’t been learning what it means to walk as a follower of Jesus.

In an unassuming way, we will put the real Jesus to death. The religious leaders who knew Jesus did the same thing because his message didn’t fit theirs.

Let’s talk about our marriages and our finances. But let’s ensure we’re learning Jesus first. It’s great if you know how to budget. It’s abundant and eternal life if you know how to follow Jesus.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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