I can’t speak for other pastors; I can only speak what I know. And for fifty years now, I’ve preached to some of the hardest, most wicked sinners on earth: drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes. Yet, I tell you, these sinners are much less resistant to gospel truth than many who sit in church pews and are blinded to their condition.
Thousands of people who attend church regularly across America are more hardened than anyone on the streets. And no smooth, soft-spoken, half-truth gospel is going to break down the walls of their wickedness.
Saul of Tarsus was just such a hardened religious man. A Pharisee among Pharisees, an upright figure in a highly religious society, Saul had it all together. So, did Jesus come to this man taking a poll, asking what he’d like to see in a synagogue service?
No! Saul was struck to the ground by a blinding light, a full blast of the presence of Christ. It was a piercing, confrontational meeting that exposed Saul’s heart, pinpointing his sin (see Acts 9:1-9).
As a minister of the gospel of Christ, I am to do likewise. It’s my business to convince men and women of their sin. I’m to warn them of the danger that awaits them if they continue their way of living. And no amount of flattery, or subtlety, or getting them to like me will change their condition.
In plain terms, I am called to lead people to forsake everything to follow a Christ whom they find unattractive. Only the Holy Ghost in me can accomplish that. “For I have not shunned (held back from) to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
Don’t mistake what I’m saying here. I preach the mercy, grace and love of Christ to all people. And I do it through tears. But the only thing that’s going to pierce the walls erected by hardened people is a blast of the presence of Jesus. And that has to come out of the mouths of contrite, praying pastors and parishioners.