Should Preaching Always Leave You Comfortable?

We live in an era where many desire preaching that tickles the ear. The Bible warns of a time when people will not endure sound teaching, have itchy ears, and even accumulate for themselves ministers who only give what they want (2 Timothy 4:3). People have become lovers of evil, money, themselves, disobedient, among other vices (2 Timothy 3:2). Many have left churches for “prophetic ministries” where it is normal for marriages to break, individuals are extorted, etc, all because men seek comfortable and soothing preaching. The impact on the Body of Christ has been colossal.

The Rise of False Teachers

The insatiable desire for soothing preaching has created a demand without a short supply of false gospel teachers. These have enslaved their hearers to human philosophies and empty deceit (Colossians 2:8). These false prophets will claim to speak in God’s name (Deuteronomy 18:20) and say, “Thus says the Lord…” when God has neither spoken to them nor would he fulfil their words (Ezekiel 13:6). They see false visions and devise lies. Yet, they would not be questioned because, again, “Thus says the Lord” (Ezekiel 22:28). Many who follow them hope in empty promises and would not heed God’s warning because their hearts are hardened (Jeremiah 23:16). So they continue to enrich these wolves while they themselves struggle in poverty.

God assures that nothing will save these false teachers from the end-time judgment that is to come (Jeremiah 5:31). Jesus cautioned his disciples against those who speak well of them, for so did the men of old speak to the false prophets, elevating their pride and eventually leading to their destruction (Luke 6:26). He also warned of false Christs and prophets who will arise and lead many astray (Mark 13:22). In other words, watch out not only for the deceiver on the pulpit but for the one on the pew as well. Guard with all your might against preaching and preachers who seem to care only that you are not offended and made comfortable.

Does God’s Word Comfort?

The Bible describes God as a God of all comfort who comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3). In the Bible are accounts of God’s love and faithfulness for his people. These accounts remind us that God loves us and will never forsake us, no matter what we encounter. Jeremiah 29:11 was a message of hope for the captives and assurance of God’s presence and plan to save them. Jesus left his disciples with peace different from what the world offers. He encouraged them not to be worried by anything (John 14:27). The knowledge of God’s presence in the life of David led him to boldly declare that he would fear no evil in the valley of the shadow of death, as God would comfort him with his rod and staff (Psalm 23:4). And Peter writes to the elect exiles, assuring them that God would restore, establish, and strengthen them after they had suffered (1 Peter 5:10).

It is, therefore, without doubt that the Bible is full of comforting and encouraging messages and would never be opposed to such. However, these must be read in their proper context, or else they will be blown out of proportion.  

The comforting message of Christ is not preached at the expense of what he demands of us. The word of God is a double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). While it is offensive to the enemy, it also serves to rebuke, correct, and even train in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It never feels good to be rebuked or corrected when we are wrong. Some individuals will even leave a church on account of this. The error with false preachers is that sin is soothed. Sin is downplayed when it comes to specific individuals in the church, for example, those who support the church financially. 

Sermons Focused Earthly Comfort

The Bible does not centre on making us comfortable in our earthly life at the expense of a life lived forever with God. While obeying God’s word will make us comfortable on earth by assuring us of God’s providence, this was not the end goal. God desires that we spend eternity with him (John 3:16). In fact, the Bible reminds us that we are pilgrims on the earth (Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 2:11). Those whose faith we are to mimic died without receiving the promises, and they confessed that they were strangers and exiles on earth (Hebrews 11:13). 

Today, the Gospel is used as a tool to enrich specific people. The goal of Christ’s coming has been shifted to just living a good life on earth. Those without material blessings are viewed as less spiritual today. There is so much pressure to compete with the worldly and the wealthy. We hide in wanting to glorify God, whereas our all-knowing God knows our motives are to create a name for ourselves (James 4:1-3). Many so-called Christians of today would prefer to enjoy the pleasures of sin at the king’s palace rather than suffer along with God’s people (Hebrews 11:24-26). The prophets and the apostles suffered much, persuaded that the world was not worth comparing to what Christ is preparing for his people (Hebrews 11:36-38). Faithful preaching will rarely make you comfortable in your lifestyle, especially if it does not please God. Faithful preaching will seek to shape you to become like Christ in various aspects, even though it may be difficult to hear.   

In sum, the word of God is very comforting. It is the Christian’s surest hope and joy as he journeys through life. If God’s word could never transform, it could be like any other book. But it impacts irreversibly, drawing us to study it the more and always have it as a reference point. However, it also has very discomforting messages. A message that calls us to leave our former lifestyle may be offensive to some people. We naturally want to swim downstream rather than struggle upward. History is filled with individuals who sacrificed their lives on account of God’s word. The allegiance God demands of us is no different, even if we are yet to be similarly persecuted. Ask God to supply you daily with the spiritual muscle to follow and obey Christ no matter how uncomfortable it seems.



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