Should I Rock the House or Preach the Word?

Ben Folds' song "Rock Star" includes these lyrics:

You need their approval

To tell you you're cool

Hey, but look how you pay for it

Give the people what they want

You've got to give the people what they want

Got to give the people what they want

Rock star

I'm a pastor and not a rock star (despite the blurring of those roles in recent years). Still, every time I retreat to the bookstore coffee shop to write another sermon I face the subtle temptation to tickle ears, to preach for approval, to be cool, and give the people what they want.

Next Sunday I have the responsibility to preach on one of the most challenging and disturbing texts in the New Testament. Matthew 7:21-23 has nothing to do with how to have a better marriage, discipline your kids, or any other felt-need people want scratched. It is a bold warning about the "many" who will be turned away from God's kingdom.

My struggle in preparing this message has not come from interpreting the text, or wrestling with theology and doctrine. ...

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