Preaching to the Choir

‘You’re preaching to the choir.’ preaching-to-the-choir

It’s a phrase or idiom that refers to someone who speaks as if he is trying to convince people of his point of view though he is speaking primarily to those who are already convinced.

I said this phrase recently to someone who was trying to convince me of something I fully supported and believed was true. I hadn’t heard the phrase in a long time but it just seemed to fit the situation so well. My friend was preaching to the choir. He didn’t have to convince me. I was already convinced. I was already sold on the concept and the truth of what he was saying.

It caused me to start thinking about how often we do this. How often do we ‘preach to the choir’? Or, how often are we ‘the choir’ to whom someone is preaching?

It can be a good thing for someone to encourage us in our faith and remind us of the reasons we have faith. It can be a great thing to teach and uplift a person or a group in their already held beliefs.

If it ends there, I think there is a problem. If the preaching is only about convincing someone of what they are already convinced, it could be that the proverbial reason for the preaching is lost. If the discussion always ends with the status quo, then each person is being robbed of the potential for growth and maturity.

There is something about being agreed with that we love. There is something about people pleasing to which we are attracted. We are all attracted to those who agree with us and will pat us on the back. In the extreme, it can be nauseating; yes, nauseating.

Doing what is right and speaking truth in love is suprisingly refreshing.

Scripture doesn’t mince words about the subject but is quite straightforward.

One place tells us that if we speak the truth in love, spiritual babies won’t stay babies. People will grow up and not be deceived by every wind of teaching that comes along.This will lead to healthy believers in a healthy Church body. (Eph 4:14-16)

In one of Paul’s letters to a young pastor named Timothy he said to patiently and carefully correct, rebuke and encourage regardless of whether it was popular or requested. He warned that there will come a day when people with ‘itching ears’ will gather around those who tell them only what they want to hear. dog_cat_scratching_earThese will only preach to choirs and these choirs will not have to endure the harshness of truth. Instead of the truth these itching ears will be soothed by unkind and gentle myths. (2 Tim 4:1-5)

We shouldn’t avoid hearing the truth, especially when it comes from those who care about us. It may be difficult and not our favourite experience but we will be better and more mature for it.

We shouldn’t avoid sharing the truth with love in spite of the possibility of rejection. If we truly love and care for someone we will take the risk.

‘Preaching to the choir’ is easier, safer and less risky. It also provides little opportunity for personal growth or of making a real difference in other people’s lives. There are times that we will find that we are playing the role of the ‘preacher’ or the ‘choir’. When we do, we face a choice. Do we speak the truth in love or just say what we think people want to hear? Do we continue to avoid those who will speak the truth in love or just keep trying to soothe our itching ears? With God’s help, let’s try to make the right one.

Discussion Questions: Have you found yourself ‘preaching to the choir’ or have you been in the position of ‘the choir’ to whom someone is ‘preaching’? How can we learn to share the truth in love? How can we learn to listen with ‘ears to hear’ versus listening with ‘itching ears’? What are your thoughts?

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Worry Or Worship … your choice.

The simple fact is that we all have choices and we will always have choices.

Most often, our choices affect the outcome of our life and, most certainly, the journey of our life.

There is an easy path that many take but it leads to destruction. There is a harder path that fewer take but it leads to life. (Matthew 7:13-14)

There is a way that seems right to most people but it leads to death. (Proverbs 3:12)

We can choose our own way or we can choose a better way.

This way may seem more difficult with fewer pay offs, but I would venture to say it is the best way.

There is no doubt that we do face challenges, struggles and difficulties. I don’t want to make light of them however, we do have choices. We cannot always choose the circumstances but we can choose our reaction to the circumstances and actions within the circumstances.

The choice most often opted for is worry. We worry, thinking we don’t have a choice. This is especially true when we feel there is nothing we can do to change the situation (which is usuallly not true, by the way). We resign ourselves to worry.

There is another choice; a choice we often neglect, ignore or don’t think is an option.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 4:6-8)

I don’t know why we think worry is better than worship. I don’t understand this line of thinking, although I have taken it to many times. Prayer and worship is better journey to take because the destination is better by far. The destination being peace; real peace that trancends all understanding.

choose-worship

When the circumstances of life are dire; when the challenges are overwhelming; or when the difficulties seem too great to overcome; step back, pray about it and worship. Prayer and worship, according to the Bible, yields more desireable results that worrying. Just think about this for a moment; the choices are:
1) worry which leads to disease, angst and defeat.
2) worship which leads to peace, resolution and victory.

There are many biblical examples of people who had every conceivable right to worry but chose to turn to God in prayer and worship. In doing so, they found that He was more than willing to intervene in their situations.

The one I want to point your attention to is found in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30.

Jehoshophat was a good king who had lead his people well. He had led them to genuinely follow the Lord. He and his people were now facing a life threatening situation. Their enemies had decided it was time to wipe them out. They were surrounded, outnumbered and outgunned. In other words, it looked like the end was inevitable.

Jehoshopaht had a choice to make. The best natural choice was to give up, surrender and hope they let you live. But this king decided to take his case to a higher court; he decide to pray and worship. He gathered his people together, prayed to the Lord and listened. God basicly told them that the Lord would fight for them, go forward and see His hand of salvation.

The thing they did next is what is so amazing. They called the musicians and singers to go to the front lines. Worship is what they chose as their first line of defense against a formidable enemy. Imagine a front line of guitar players and tamborine shakers going to face a battle hungry warriors with nothing but praise and worship to protect them.

They did just that and God showed up in a big way! Confusion and conspiracy spread among the enemy. They picked up weapons against each other and slaughtered themselves. The only thing left for the Israelites to do was to clean up the mess and reap the spoils. The Lord had indeed won the battle!

They made the right choice; they chose worship over worry. If they hadn’t it would have been a whole different story.
Confuse the enemy
Regardless of what you are facing, prayer and worship is a better choice than worry.

I know you are facing challenges; we all do. It’s how we face them that makes the difference.

My suggestion?

Pray about the challenge, worship the Lord as you move forward. You may be amazed at what God will do!

Prayer suggestion:

Lord, you know what I am facing. Lord, I can’t face it on my own. I ask You to intervene and make a way because there doesn’t seem to be a way. I believe you are able and willing. I choose to trust you and not to worry. Lord, I choose to worship you because you are good, trustworthy and powerful. I choose worship today because you are much bigger than my problem. I choose worship over worry. Thank you for your promises of trancendant peace in Christ. In Your Name I pray. Amen.

I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to leave a comment below.

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No Strings Attached

nostringsattached

 

A few weeks before Christmas a colleague and faithful member of our congregation approached me to say that she had an idea she would like to pass by me. Her idea was to bless the businesses in our downtown core. I need to tell you that we are located in a small town of about 6500 people; our downtown core isn’t as big as some. Our downtown core suffers great competition and needs the support of the community as much as possible. The idea was to take a simple gift packet and simply give it to a business owner or manager as a thank you and a blessing –  no strings attached. Included in the packet was a card from our church wishing a Merry Christmas, a baked good and some other seasonal trimmings. It wasn’t extravagant nor expensive. Nothing came out of the church funds to support this. It was completely put together by a couple of ladies who simply wanted to share the love of Christ at Christmas time no strings attached. Amazingly simple; amazingly effective. Of course I gave this my complete support.

The project took place the day before Christmas Eve and it seems to have been a great hit. I did not participate in this venture but I did meet with the ladies just after they were finished at the local coffee shop. With our hot drinks in hand I sat back to watch the glow of joy on these two women. They told me stories of how they were able to connect with the business community. It was wonderful to hear. Some business owners connected the dots between people they knew and our congregation. Some just were taken by complete surprise when they realized they were being given a gift with no strings attached. ‘You mean you are just giving us something?’ The total effect this will have remains to be seen.

It is amazing what a little kindness can do; especially when there are no strings attached. Often when there are stings attached to a favour or a blessing it negates the blessing all together. If there are expectations of favours owed because of someone’s kindness the kindness is no longer that; it becomes a point of sale – something is owed. 

Jesus told us that we ought to be a blessing to those who are unable to return the blessing. That is true Christ like behaviour. (Luke 6:31-33) Bless those who can’t bless you. Give to those who can’t give back. ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you’ – freely without expectation of payback.

I would like to encourage you today that when you are kind or when you do a favour for someone do it with no expectation of reciprocation. In other words, do it for free with no strings attached. If you do not receive kindness back be kind anyway. If you won’t be able to recall the favour do the favour for them anyway. In fact, why not actively look for opportunities to be a blessings where there is no opportunity to be ‘paid back’. Give, bless and serve with no strings attached; do it in the service of Christ – period.

Can you imagine the difference if more of us lived to be a blessing with no strings attached? Maybe we would have to go out of our way to do this; maybe opportunities will just come along naturally. Either way, it would be worth the impact you could have.

What kind of ideas do you have? I’d love to read your thoughts and suggestions.

Blessings to you – no strings attached. ;-)

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