Yesterday morning at church I listened to a talk. It was interesting. I heard some good stuff about book of James, and I double-checked the pastor on a couple of points he made that seemed a little off. It was nice. But, I didn’t hear a sermon. And I don’t think it was the pastor’s fault.
According to Luther, the preacher has a pretty high calling.
Christ ought to be preached with this goal in mind – that we might be moved to faith in him so that he is not just a distant historical figure but actually Christ for you and me. In other words, the purpose of preaching is to make what is said about Christ effectual in us. (Martin Luther, The Freedom of a Christian (Fortress 2008), 69).
As I was reflecting on this, I was struck again by the fact that those hearing a sermon have an equally high calling. If the preacher’s role is to present the word of God in such a way that Christ becomes effectual in us, then we who are listening need to hear it that way. The responsibility goes both ways.