Without doubt one of the most common things people in church experience is that uncanny sense of déjà vu when a pastor or speaker preaches. It’s as if that man (or woman) had been inside our heart or lives and knew us as much as we knew ourselves; especially the secret stuff--that which is inclined to stay closeted.
I get this experience almost every time I experience God’s Word preached. Yet, it’s not as if the preacher or speaker knows our intimate position even remotely, though we’d be forgiven for feeling a little paranoid.
I don’t have that much these days to feel guilty for, carnally, but even the little things cause much consternation during moments of forced reflection. But this is a healthy practice, because it keeps us spiritually sharp--it is the process of God’s refining fire; the crucible for silver and the furnace for gold… we’re tested by the praise and rebukes we receive as God continually tests our hearts (Proverbs 17:3; 27:21).
The pastor is sharpening us in this process--we’re sharpening each other in fact (Proverbs 27:17) as we walk this journey together with and toward God.
It is the preacher’s role as prophet to speak to our hearts as God’s instrument for not only encouragement, hope and instruction in growth, but also for correction and rebuke. When we’re ‘spoken to’ in ways that we feel the preacher is pointing directly to us in their words, we ought to take heed that it is actually God speaking through them to us.
Then it is up to us to make an honest assessment as to whether we’re simply a little too paranoid or there’s more to it. Generally, paranoia is a sign that something needs to be dealt with. God could be revealing something to us that we should turn from, or no less, do or start doing.
The thing to take into account is preachers are human beings too. They know only full well what goes on in the human mind and heart--they know the temptations, the weaknesses, the selfishness, the unmanaged anger, and self-pity; the sum myriad of vices.
They know each one listening, observing them preach, has his or her own issues that dog them. And they too have their own issues. They’re far from perfect themselves.
And it is their task to gently reveal these issues through the process of self-revelation as God speaks to the heart of each person in attendance. Often times, pastors will preach a message that hits a completely different mark (to that they’d initially intended) for some people. The Holy Spirit works mysteriously.
Chances are the preacher is speaking to you, but he might not even be aware of it! Now, that’s got to be a God-thing!
Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.