“If you’re not offending someone, you’re not preaching the gospel,” wrote blogger Mike Duran.
His statement reminds me of an expression I remember hearing from older preachers many years ago, “Just preach the Truth and let the chips fall where they may.”
Now, I understand the gist of both comments. In fact, Mike correctly writes about occasions where Jesus’ preaching was offensive to the Pharisees, Sadducees, and political leaders of His day. He was also plain-spoken with Peter and the other apostles when they needed to be corrected or rebuked.
I have written in the past about the problem of being guided by feelings. Feelings are fleeting. Feelings can deceive us. Feelings can impede our acceptance of Truth. To paraphrase the wise man, “There is a way that (feels) right unto a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Prov. 14:12)
The same thing is true of our thoughts. There’s an old adage that says, “Opinions are like noses, everybody’s got one.” When it comes to the Bible, too many value their opinion over God’s revealed Word. Truth trumps opinions and feelings. Every time. “For the Word of the Lord is right” (Ps 33:4).
However, there is another angle to this issue for Preachers and Bible teachers to consider. While the Bible should be the basis of our teaching and Truth should never be compromised, we must present His Word in the spirit of love, care and concern.
“Speaking the Truth in love” (Eph 4:16) should always be our aim. While Jesus’ teaching did offend some folks, it is obvious that He truly cared about them. Tried to help them. And desired for them to be saved from their sins.
The Bible says, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (Col 4:5-6)
Surely all would agree that Jesus was the master Teacher. He spoke the word of God and used methods of wisdom and prudence. One tactic Jesus often used was asking questions. He often asked his hearers, “What do you think?” (Mt 17:25)
“What do you think about Christ? Whose Son is He?” Jesus asked the Pharisees.
“Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” He asked the apostles.
When they responded, he asked, “Who do you say that I am?”
Why did Jesus continually ask what others thought? What difference did it make? In fact, he didn’t need to ask, He knew what they thought. It was a method to arouse interest, capture attention, cause personal introspection, and help people discover truth for themselves.
Often I will begin my Bible classes with an ice-breaker type question for the same reasons. Furthermore, it helps the teacher see where the learner is in their thinking and provides insight to direct the study.
Additionally, Jesus cared about people’s feelings. A case in point occurred at the death of Lazarus. When Jesus came to Bethany, both Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters, questioned why Jesus did not come quicker.
When he came to the tomb, Mary and her friends were crying. Jesus might have chided them. He could have said, “Don’t you know why I’m here? Who I am? And what I have the power to do?” No! Jesus felt their pain. Jesus shared their sorrow. And Jesus wept.
Then He prayed to the Father and with a mighty voice demanded, “Lazarus, come forth!” Instead of deriding their feelings, Jesus empathized while demonstrating His power. As a result, many believed on Him.
Preachers, teachers and evangelistic Christians must tell people the Truth. But let’s learn to teach like Jesus. We should care about people’s thoughts and feelings.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman