“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions.” 2 Timothy 4:2-3
The last several years have seen a number of professional and collegiate sports teams change their mascots because they were deemed offensive to people. The mascot for the Concordia Seminary basketball team may be the most offensive of all: The Preachers. In his second letter to young Timothy, the apostle Paul instructs his student that as one called to preach the Word of God he will not be welcomed by people. Those called to preach God’s Word have the responsibility to reprove, rebuke, and exhort. The children of Israel did not want to hear the prophets’ calls to repentance, nor do God’s children today want to hear such admonitions.
Preachers are called to proclaim the Law “in its full sternness” (C.F.W. Walther) before proclaiming the sweetness of the Gospel. In a culture that does not acknowledge sin, the proclamation of the Law will always offend. But the goal of the proclamation of the Law is always to lead the hearers to repentance. It is only after the hearers recognize their absolute humility and poverty that they can be assured that in Christ they receive grace upon grace.
In 1893, Chicago Evening Post journalist Finley Peter Dunne wrote, “The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” While we would reverse the order, that is also the task of the preacher. The goal is not to offend, but to convict and set free, wound and to heal, to kill and make alive. Many may be offended by calling sinners to humbly repent, but that’s really nothing new. Whether they have sports teams or not, our prayer is that our seminaries keep on preparing preachers who will preach the Word in season and out of season and offend those who will not endure sound teaching and who will listen only to those who will suite their own passions. May our pastors faithfully preach God’s Word, that by it the Holy Spirit may accomplish what God intends in bringing us to repentance and faith in Christ.
Prayer – Almighty God, our heavenly Father, bless Your Holy Church with faithful preachers of Your Word, that by it, we, Your people may turn away from their own desires and be transformed by the renewing of their minds through the Holy Spirit so that we may evermore embrace and ever hold fast Your Word; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan