Monday, November 14, 2011

Contradictions

My preaching feels fraught with contradictions. I hear them come out of my mouth, so I screen the seats for reactions. Nothing. I expect people to rise from their seats, hands to wave through the air, someone to shout, "That doesn't make sense."

To date, interruptions have been minimal. One lady fainted during a worship service. One couple left for a roller derby bout. Two weeks ago a baby doll uttered a mechanical cry. But no one has argued against my discrepancies.

Or, perhaps, the variances are not mine; they belong to the Bible.

Before I get the heresy millstone hung around my neck, I admit what I am talking about is apparent contradictions--what  theologians call "already/not-yet" tensions, which result whenever heavenly ideals rub against earthly realities. The Bible is full of them.

The OT prophets spoke in (apparent) contradictions: You are a royal priesthood; you are a stiff-necked people. I will never leave you; the glory of the Lord departed. Jesus spoke in contradictions: The Kingdom of God is upon you. Paul spoke in contradictions: To the saints in Corinth..."

I speak in (apparent) contradictions:
I tell people the world won't be right until Jesus returns; then I tell them to make it a better place.
I encourage people to reject the world and be holy; then I tell them to be engaged and on mission.
I rail against legalistic practices; then I tell people to read the Bible daily and pray without ceasing.
I remind people God doesn't need our money; then I pass the offering plate.

The list goes on. Every preacher could add his own. I am waiting for the day someone rises from her seat, waves her hand through the air, and shouts, "That doesn't make sense." At least I'll know she was listening.

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