A good friend of mine, a pastor, once remarked that if we take all things in consideration, he didn’t have any right to stand behind a pulpit and preach God’s word. He admitted that he was a very conscientious driver, and yet it is during driving that his “dark side” comes out.
I admit myself that I can very much sympathize. There is no quicker way to bring about someone’s evil side (in Christianese, that means the surest way to show that people are truly depraved) is to strap them behind a wheel and let them loose in the streets of Manila.
I should know. Personally I can attest to the fact that (in my head at least) I have murdered dozens of people. These are the ones I encounter when I drive–the taxi driver who cuts across me in heavy traffic, the pedicab driver who takes forever to move aside when you’re behind him and you’re already late for work, the bus driver who refuses to pick up passengers at the designated stops, the pedestrian who looks in the wrong directions while crossing the street. Let’s not forget the motorcycle riders who think it is their God-given right to drive on the wrong side of the road, just because they can. And last but not least, the officers of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA). I believe that they are the most useless people on the planet. With very few exceptions, they do more to cause traffic jams then prevent them. (If anyone is interested, I’ll give them an example.)
Now I’ve been behind the pulpit many times. By God’s grace, each and every time. People have commented that I look very comfortable behind the pulpit. What they don’t know is that while I may feel comfortable speaking (and yes, one dimension of preaching is, it is a form of public speaking), while I may look comfortable speaking, deep down I’m not. Every time I stand behind a pulpit, I am overwhelmed by:
- The sheer weight of God’s Word. I’m not talking about understanding Hebrew or Greek. I’m talking about God’s word being God’s word. We don’t take this book lightly, because the author is the very Creator of the Universe. If books were people, Stephen Hawking’s ponderous tome, A Brief History of Time, can’t hold a candle to the Scriptures.
- The responsibility in being able to study, exegete and preach from said Word. You could say that I asked for this: After all, I wanted to attend seminary; nobody twisted my arm to want to attend theology school. To which I say: None of that negates the calling that God has put in my heart. To think that God uses sinners (albeit saved by grace) to handle his Word, and authorizes them to “preach to dead bones” is really overwhelming.
This is not to say I enjoy murdering people in my head. I feel like I’m in a science fiction movie and stuck in a temporal causality loop of Romans Chapter 7. I don’t want to sin, but I still sin.
And yet God uses me. Who am I indeed?