When the crowds came to John for baptism, he said, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.” (Luke 3:7–9, NLT)
Imagine a preacher today mounting the pulpit and speaking to the people as did John the Baptist.
By about the third week, murmuring about “not being fed” and “looking for another church” would begin. You can’t build a megachurch by berating people when they come. And why have a church if you aren’t trying to build a megachurch?
In these days of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD), we want to be coddled. We want preaching that addresses our “felt needs”. We want preaching that builds the church and doesn’t attack our conscience. It’s ok if preaching attacks a lifestyle other than our own, though. We go to church to be blessed and to feel better when we leave, not to get hit in the head with the truth.
John’s preaching even points out that it takes more than baptism and words of repentance be safe (saved). It requires a change in one’s ethics. It requires bearing fruits. It requires good works.
We don’t like to hear that stuff. In our MTD religion, we want to come to church and amen the sermon and go home feeling better, but basically the same. We want to say the sinner’s prayer and get baptized and live a good enough life to get to heaven. John wouldn’t hear of it.
I guess, overall, I’d rather feed on the preaching of the Baptist, the friend of the Bridegroom. Lord, come soon.