Sometimes words seem so cheap. Have you noticed this? Once I attended a conference where we were treated to a guest preacher who had been flown in from several states away. He was fairly well-known with wide name recognition. Early in the worship service we in the audience sat expectantly, waiting until the moment when we could hear this man speak to us. When he started speaking, we were not disappointed. He was certainly a dynamic speaker. His arms and hands moved constantly. He paced back and forth across the stage. He raised and lowered his voice at all the right places, sometimes almost whispering and sometimes almost shouting. I wondered if he had trained to be an actor sometime in his life. After 20-25 minutes he ended the sermon with a flourish and sat down, his forehead sweating from the physical exertion. We sang a hymn, received a benediction, and then got out of our seats to go to the next event in the conference.
We had been treated to a good show, but something was wrong about that sermon. I felt it, even though I couldn’t quite describe what was bothering me. Something was missing. As I exited the room, I heard two other people discussing the sermon who sounded as troubled as I felt. One of them turned to the other and said, “That was quite a performance. But he didn’t really say anything. His sermon was full of clichés that had no substance. His words were mostly empty.”
“Yes,” I thought to myself, “that’s exactly right. The preacher was dynamic, but he didn’t say anything. The sermon was hollow, devoid of significant meaning.”
- John 11:1 - 44