On the 19th of May 2018, the Royal Wedding of Harry and Meghan was broadcast and watched around the world. Yet it was not the dress that I saw spoken about so much, nor the new look of the royal wedding service. Instead it was the sermon of Rev. Michael Curry. Upon hearing the sermon that afternoon I posted a status to my personal Facebook page saying,
‘Man, that sermon.
So close and yet so far.
Talented guy though.
My status, surprisingly to me, garnered a mass of controversy and even to this moment as I write, it is still being commented on by various, professing Christians. I have replied to many on there, and now after much thought and reflection in the last few days since the royal wedding sermon, here are my lasting thoughts.
I’m shocked this sermon has been discussed so much and so fervently by Christians. I honestly believe it shows where we are as a Western church when we would be so celebratory of a self-proclaimed Christian preacher not preaching the Christian message.
Don’t get me mistaken, I want love preached. Love is the essence of the Gospel, God is love. Yet without Christ, his person and work, and the reason and purpose of that work, there can be no true understanding of real love, especially real soul-saving, life-transforming love.
Many Christians shy away from speaking about sin and repentance, and even hell, but if we just look to Christ as our example – he never shied away from these things. Without these he had no message to preach. Just take, for example, his first sermon on earth as recorded in Mark 1:14-15, “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”’
Without a clear proclamation and understanding of the bad news, such as the darkness of sin and evil in our world that mankind is reveling in, there is no good news of love. There is no need for Christ and the salvation he offers, if there is no preaching of the light of the world who stepped down into darkness so that we may see and no longer be blinded by our own rebellion to God. If this is absent from your preaching, then you’re not loving your neighbour. You’re telling them what you think they want to hear; you are allowing your neighbour to live a life that leads to eternal death without ever hearing of the hope found in Jesus. In the preaching of the Gospel, we cannot preach God’s love without proclaiming his wrath, nor should we preach God’s wrath without shining forth his love. John 3:16, the much loved yet little understood, verse of scripture is a perfect example of this.
The Royal Wedding preacher, preached a universal, ambiguous, human-centric love founded in the love of Meghan and Harry, not Christ. And that, people, is not true love as made clear in the Christian scriptures.
The Royal Wedding preacher, preached a love that we may, in return, experience and know from the rest of the world. People, that is not the love the Christian is called to preach.
Christ preached perfect love and for this he was hated by the world. We do not preach love for love in return; we preach love because we are already loved with an unconditional, perfect love found in the Triune God of heaven and earth.
The Royal Wedding preacher, preached that the love we have for each other, as seen in the royal couple, will change the world. But, people, this is just plainly not true.
No unsaved person can have the love that Christ has for the world and for creator of this world. Instead what will change the world is Christ. We pray that his will be done and his kingdom come. What this prayer means is that we are calling for that final day to come when the whole cosmos will be under the rule and reign of Christ – now and forever. No maverick molecule will be in existence; no wandering hearts; no wild minds. But all will bow the knee to Jesus and live according to Christ’s commands and example, to the glory of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
It is the rule and reign of Christ we must call people to, for then we will not have to tell people to love but instead they will want to do nothing else, for they will want to be like their saviour, their saviour who is love.
A preacher’s job is not to preach a sermon that invites people to a Sunday service, or an alpha course. Neither is it to preach a sermon that calls them to church and makes Christianity look like any other self-help, purpose driven, and motivational talk found in countless religions and community centres around the world.
A preacher’s job is to call people to Christ, invite them unto the saviour, who alone has the words of everlasting life. It is for him to echo Christ as he points to the cross and say, “Come, come all who are weary, come unto Jesus and he shall give you rest.”
He does not preach sermons to make the atheist smile and the Buddhist nod his head in agreement. He doesn’t preach sermons for tickling ears and for what he thinks people want to hear. He preaches the sermons Christ preached. He preaches the sermons people need to hear. If he is thrown out of the wedding for this and tied to the stake, so be it. The most loving, most passionate, and most brilliant preacher in the world was crucified for the sermons he preached. So too were the many imperfect preachers with names such as Peter, Paul and John, who, through Christ, laid the foundation for the Church we now call home.
The preacher should not back down under government officials or the BBC’s cameras. But instead the preacher should stand up tall, and if this is to be the last sermon he preaches may he preach it as a dying man to dying men – for it is that great work which will echo in the new earth for eternity.
I am no perfect preacher. None of us are – and I am not a great preacher; many are greater than me. But as has been said before and must be said again, no other preacher can preach a greater gospel than me.
It is nothing new that we should bring to the people. No, it is a reminder, a heralding, of the unchanging truths of scripture – the actual word of God – that needs to be brought to the people.
And it is that which we as the church must live and die for: the gospel. It is not the man I am attacking here; I know nothing of him. But I am indeed aiming at his message, for as I said before: a self-proclaimed Christian preacher did not preach the Christian message. It is that message, that gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation. Anything less, is to not love your neighbour, but to hate them. Anything less is not to love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. Instead, it is to call him a liar, and to not trust that the word of God, through the Spirit of God, is enough to do the work of God.
As Steve Lawson said, “We are in the world, but not of the world. We are to have our boat in the water, but no water in the boat.”
What these last few days since the wedding have shown is that the evangelical church in the West is sinking under the water of the world and many of us are enjoying to paddle in it. When what we really need as the Church of God in this present moment is to cast ourselves on Christ and call on him to calm the storm. May he hear and answer this prayer.
This is a guest post from our dear friend from beyond the pond, Will Bassett