Have you ever been interrupted while preaching? It happened to me on one occasion when speaking at a youth meeting. The young man who began to talk back to me was either a new Christian or very close to becoming one. It threw me for a moment. I wasn’t used to that sort of thing. Hopefully I handled it okay! Frank Boreham, in his wonderful autobiography, ‘My Pilgrimage’, tells how his basic training as a preacher took place on the streets of London, as an open air preacher. If you could hold a crowd there, you could probably pull it off just about anywhere. You certainly had to be nimble on your feet in responding to hecklers etc.
Here’s another question: have you ever been interrupted by the police when preaching? Well, I can’t own up to that one, but in many parts of the world Christians still experience intimidation, arrest, imprisonment. I think every preacher should ask himself, or herself, ‘What is there about my preaching which disturbs? Is there anything at all?’ Some preaching doesn’t cause even the tiniest ripple on Lake Conscience. But one preacher said he saw it as his job to ‘comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable’. A Biblical ministry will at times profoundly disturb, and that may lead to an angry backlash, even among professing Christians.Some people get angry when their deeply-cherished prejudices are challenged. That’s how it was with the ‘’Sadducees’’ (1). They didn’t believe in the resurrection, and so were deeply upset about it being preached and believed (2).
When preaching disturbs, it may lead to an angry reaction leading to violent action (3). Yet persecution will never stop the church (4). God’s Word is not bound (2 Timothy 2:8,9). They can put the preachers of the Word behind bars, but they can’t confine the Word there. The message was already out there, doing its work in people’s hearts.
Early this morning, Jilly and I watched the day gradually dawn. But while it was still dark, just a little way across the field, we saw a light. It could not be hidden. The fact that it was dark was just no match for the light. The darkness could not overcome it. This gives me great encouragement for our witness. If we will just be who we are – be real – we will have an effect in and on the darkness. We will shine and our light will not be quenched.