As a sinner, I know that someone like me proclaiming the Word of God--both His Law and His Promise--would be the height of hypocrisy except for two things.
One is that, other than Jesus Who was sinless, only sinners can proclaim the Word of God. That's the only earthly pool of available candidates God has at His disposal. I come from that pool.
And, of course, it is a Word from God that must be preached. As the apostle Paul puts it in Romans 10:17: "...faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ." So, for better and worse, imperfect human beings like me are who get nominated for preaching God's Word.
But I am conscious of my sins. Some days more than others. But, like all the human race, I am called to daily repent, that is, turn from my sin, and believer in, trust in Christ, perfect man, God incarnate, and in what He has done for all people through His cross, to destroy the power of sin and death over my eternal destiny. When I entrust my old sins and my present, future, and eternal existence to Christ alone, I am saved from my sin. Acts 4:12 says of Jesus: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved." I depend on the grace God gives only through Christ.
If I saw myself as anything other than a sinful person whose only hope for forgiveness and life is Jesus Christ, I wouldn't dare take the pulpit.
The other reason I dare to take the pulpit is that, it appears and has appeared for nearly four decades, through the affirmation of the Church and an inner compulsion of faith, that I have been called to preach. Called by God.
I attended my first seminary class more than thirty-seven years ago, have been ordained for nearly thirty-four. To this day, I ask God whether I heard Him right when it came to my call. I still think that the sermons I've prepared aren't good enough. (Of course, they're not. But God uses my study and prayer to make more of my "not good enough" efforts, it seems.) I still cringe when I hear recordings of my preaching or teaching; how can people stand to listen, how could I have neglected to make that point, why did I let me get in the way of God?
And yet, God's call to this sinner continues. No one could be more inspired by this particular example of God's grace than I am.
[Blogger Mark Daniels is pastor of Living Water Lutheran Church in Centerville, Ohio.]