We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:5
Back in the 1500’s, there was a man by the name of Hugh Latimer. Hugh Latimer was a preacher in England during the reign of King Henry VIII. And according to Christian author Michael Corcoris, Hugh Latimer had a problem.
The problem was this. Latimer had just finished preaching a sermon. King Henry VIII was in attendance. Something in his sermon had angered the king so much that the king ordered Latimer to preach a new sermon for him the next Sunday, but to include an apology for what he had said the previous Sunday. No one had to tell Latimer that offending someone like Henry VIII could mean imprisonment or death.
The next Sunday arrived. Latimer climbed into the pulpit. From there he could see the king, waiting for his apology. In essence, Latimer began his sermon with these words: “I know I stand before a king, who is able to take my life. But I also stand before Christ Jesus, who holds my immortal soul.” And with that, Hugh Latimer proceeded to preach the same sermon he had preached the week before.
Perhaps you are someone who attends church regularly. If you do, then you know that preachers can come in all different styles and personalities, weaknesses and strengths. You also know that if a preacher is being faithful, he is going to hit a nerve from time to time. He is going to tell you something that your old sinful self does not want to hear.
Or perhaps you are someone who is searching for a church home. If that’s you, remember what the purpose of a preacher is. His purpose is not to just make you feel good about yourself, to avoid difficult subjects, to avoid hurting your feelings. Rather, his purpose is to preach Christ. It is to call sin what Jesus calls sin. Because only then can Jesus’ message of forgiveness bring real healing for our hurts and real rescue from our guilt.
By the way, Hugh Latimer survived to preach many more sermons.
Lord Jesus, I pray for preachers. Make them faithful in proclaiming your Word. And bless my hearing of their message to me. Amen.
(Hugh Latimer (1487 – 1555) was an English Protestant who advanced the cause of the Reformation in England through his preaching and through his martyrdom–he was burned at the stake during the reign of Queen Mary I.)