Friday, December 14, 2007

Preacher – Do You Become Like Your Text?

I was pondering some changes in my life since starting to preach the Gospel of John. After spending nearly three years in Romans and the linear thought of Paul, I found the first few months in John very labour-intensive. Now, the start of a new book is always more work as you begin to grow deeper in the author’s intentions, flow of thought, word usage, etc – but this was different. The abrupt change in style was forcing an abrupt change in study habits!

I had always loved John but been scared to preach it. I am by nature more comfortable with a book like Romans (in style, not content – the depth in this letter scared me off preaching it for 7 years!), but John has all this godly “double-entendre,” parallelism (not parallelomania, Tom!), OT connectivity, and depths and depths of meaning buried in each text. It is a selah book – you have to stop and ponder over and over again.

(For example, how does one really preach John 1:1-18 with any adequacy? I took Carson’s advice and polished it off in one sermon! To do otherwise would have meant we would still be there!)

But, here is the observation I have made. The more I study John, the more slowly, meditatively, and thoughtfully I seem to live. What I am suggesting is that immersing myself in that book is changing me to take on some of the characteristics of the literature... or one might say, of the author.

Now, it is odd to speak so bluntly about myself in this public forum, and I am sure that coupled with any good that is taking place in my life through this process there are truckloads of my sin. But I post this to ask of other preachers: Do you find that you “become like your text?” Maybe everybody else has already thought about this and I am must cluing in now!