I was very fortunate to study homiletics under Professor Milton Crum. His critique of many of the sermons of his students was most often: “Where is the good news?” Regrettably, I still discover that I am preaching one of those student sermons.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news. Jesus has paid the price for our sins and has freed us from the bondage and power of sin. Do we believe that? If so, are we excited to tell others about this wonderful news? The do’s and don’ts have no meaning to us outside of the cross. Sermons should be challenging, but they should also be encouraging! They should be up-lifting. They should be more about what Jesus has done and is doing for us than what we should be doing for him.
The Pharisees were very accomplished in legalisms, the dos, and don’ts. Jesus rebuked them severely. Do we need to add to their lengthy list? Yes, we need to have the obedience of the faith. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. He will build our obedience if we allow him. He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit to comfort us and guide us into all truth.
The oral interpretation of scripture is another matter. When we read the Gospel during the worship service, do we try to sound like James Earl Jones or Charlton Heston? Let us use our own voices, but let there be personal joy and excitement as we express our faith in the saving acts of Jesus. When we read the scriptures, our parishioners ask us: “Where is the good news?” We need to believe it and share it. They need to hear it in our voices. They need to see it on our faces. Are we good ambassadors for Christ?
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:17-20)