The Sermon on the Mount is arguably the most famous act of public speaking in history, despite remarkably few people actually knowing what it’s about. Go on, give it a read, it’s over here. I’ll wait.
I know, pretty shocking, isn’t it? Is he actually saying that people who don’t believe in him are going to hell? It does sort of sound like it, doesn’t it? In fact, there’s a lot of controversial stuff in there. Please feel free to discuss any of it in the comments section.
Anyway, I love a little throwaway comment that Matthew put in after he’d finished speaking:
the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. (Matthew 7:28b-29)
Do you see that? Their scribes, the ones who were meant to know what’s going on, didn’t speak as if they had any authority! I wonder…I wonder if I’m even allowed to say this…I wonder how much ‘preaching’ in the world today is done by people who speak with true authority.
I reckon ‘motivational speakers’ definitely do. Politicians generally seem to. The New Atheists seem to (although their ‘authority’ is more presented as arrogance and aggression). But do Christian preachers?
Certainly there are some; it’s hard to deny the authority presented by Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll, Craig Groeschel or John Piper. And this isn’t a jab at preachers, more a question: if you preach, how much authority do you preach with?