I am almost finished with my series through 1 John. This epistle, as easy as it is to read and to understand (except for few parts) is really hard in that it is hard to receive. John shakes us out of our stupor and forces us to examine ourselves in light of Scripture. The sermons have been fairly easy to prepare because they are basic and fundamental (and the exegesis is not too difficult), but the messages are difficult to preach because they are so hard both on the preacher and the congregation.
Many don’t realize how hard it is to preach such sermons. The conscientious preacher is aware of how far short of the mark he falls but he is still faced with the task of confronting others with the Word just as he has been confronted. Such challenges produce growth (and there is no growth without challenge) but the preacher has two difficulties facing him: (1) While everyone wants to be liked, the true preacher of the Word must seek to please Christ rather than men; (2) Just as it is sometimes hard to discipline your children, it is also hard at times, to preach stern messages to those you love. (Interesting how both John and Paul use this parenting image for the relationship between pastor and people.)
The Proverbs say, though, that if you rebuke a wise man he will love you afterwards (Prov. 28). The preacher also has to remember Barth’s comment on Matthew 12:36 (“Every idle word men shall speak they will give account thereof in the day of judgment”). Barth says that as true as that is for everyone, how much more true is it for God’s messenger who stands before God’s people and says, “Thus saith the Lord!” May God raise up prechers to his Church who will not be found ashamed in the Day of Judgment for failing to preach the truth in love to God’s people.