What in the world could a title like “Stinky preachin . . .” possibly offer that is of positive impact for the Kingdom? I am so glad that you asked that question. My inspiration came from revisiting the book of Jonah. Have you ever gotten that fish smell on your hands? It doesn’t just wash off, does it? So imagine Jonah after floating around in the belly of a big fish. I suspect the folks in Ninevah could smell him from quite a distance.
It is a great story, and one that certainly stirs up a lot of controversy. No doubt the book has had its share of doubters. “Really, preacher, you expect me to believe that a man survived being swallowed by a big fish and then being in its gut for 3 days?” But I am not focused on an apologetic to prove the validity of the story. I want to focus on this man’s “stinky preaching”.
We can talk about him smelling funny and find some humor. But I don’t think there is any humor in ‘stinky preaching.”
Let me lay this out there. Yes, God used Jonah to usher in revival in Ninevah. Jonah delivered God’s message, and the people turned back to God. But take a minute and think about Jonah’s heart. Chapter 4 tells the story of him sitting on a mountain pouting. He is angry at God. Why? Because God had relented from bringing judgment on all these people. You can read the story and discover how Jonah cared more about a gourd vine that grows and then withers than he does all of the population of Ninevah. “God I was doing just fine where I was. I told you I didn’t want to come here, but you persisted.”
No doubt from a physical hygiene perspective, Jonah’s personal aroma was much less than pleasant. But I would suggest to you that his preaching stunk worse than he did, in one very real sense I will explain in a moment. If my basic premise is right, then no doubt God can still use stinky preaching. In other words, it can still be somewhat effective.
OK, so Jonah has a bad attitude. But God used him anyway and brought revival to the city. Isn’t that good preaching? The Bible says, “Speak the truth, IN LOVE.” Remember the saying, ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
So let me suggests that “stinky preaching” is preaching that does not flow out of a heart of love and compassion. We have probably all heard preaching that stinks, in the sense that it was just bad. But how often have we heard preaching that did not come from a heart of love, even if it was doctrinally accurate, and entertainingly appealing to listen to?
Just some rambling thoughts perhaps. But hopefully a challenge to all of us who proclaim God’s Word from a position of vocationally ministry to examine our hearts. Do I truly love with a Christ given compassion those to whom I am delivering a message? A pastor I once served with as an associate once told me that no preacher had ever heard another preacher preach a great sermon, only one with “possibilities”. So I don’t suspect there is any ‘greatness’ to this blog post. But I pray it stirs up some possibilities in your heart today.