Whatever muscles you exercise will be your strongest muscles. I remember growing up watching professional wrestling. The well balanced wrestler stood up with a solid muscular build from the top of the head to the bottom of the foot. Other wrestlers in worse shape appeared to have never seen the inside of a gym.
But there were wrestlers who had arms that were rock solid, showing that they had diligently worked their biceps. However, their bellies showed they couldn’t remember the last time they completed a sit up or crunch. These wrestlers did not have a balanced approach to their exercise routine.
Now on to preaching. Did you ever hear a preacher who is an expert at the bad news? She or he knows how to examine and describe the intricacies of that bad news. This kind of preacher knows who is going to hell. This preacher can define clearly what you ain’t doing right. This preacher can tell you what you are doing wrong, but they can’t tell you what you need to do or who you need to run to for salvation.
When it is time to celebrate, they can’t do it, and they end up just forcing it.
What is going on? It is the same principle. What you exercise is what you will strengthen. If you never celebrate the good news, then your preaching will become as dry as the Hills of Gilboa. Or even worse, it may become a mean-spirited attack on the sinner.
But only looking at the Good News without ever seeing the bad news can be problematic as well. The reality of living in a fallen world must be a part of your preaching. If you never address this reality, your preaching will become unrealistic as it loses touch with the people you are trying to reach with the message of Jesus.
The answer? Give due time to the reality of the real world. When people talk about relevant preaching, they are talking about this. They want you to preach to real issues. Show how the text you carry addresses real contemporary issues. Show how the text you carry points to a Jesus who is still “God with us” in the real issues of life.
But don’t you dare lose the good news! Because as soon as you lose the good news, you lose your reason for preaching. Exercise all the muscles so they all will be strong. The muscles of your understanding of the good news and the muscles of your understanding of the reality of the bad news. Then when you celebrate, you are celebrating the good news overcoming the bad news in the real world.