I am blessed to preach to a very receptive and hungry congregation. The people at Emmaus love the word and want it preached.
Over the last couple of years I have observed reactions to particular tone and context of preaching. It is amazing and instructive.
In particular, when we are dealing with weighty matters of God’s Law, in particular Leviticus, or something that tells the Christian to do something, insert an epistle here, then people become weighed down. If I take my homiletical stand in the Law (what God requires) there regularly is a weight of heavy obligation that presses upon them. Their posture is serious but not characterized by happiness. They are looking at their Bibles and listening well, but not ‘leaning into to it’ as it were. They are feeling it, but not in the way that brings happiness.
Now contrast this with the emphasis upon all that Christ has done for us (gospel). The posture and mood is completely different. It is really quite amazing. I see smiles breakout spontaneously, tears, notes being feverishly written, and head nods. Even in Leviticus, which is quite heavy, there is much of Jesus and his gospel. It is here that I saw this dynamic vividly.
What can we learn from this small test group?
The same thing that my own heart says: I need to hear, remember, and delight in the fresh air of the gospel. That gloriously transcendent gail must blow my hair back. The preacher must position his hearers in such a way that they cannot miss the fresh air upon their faces. Before we know what must be done by us we have to know what God has done for us. This work of Christ liberates us unto obedience with humility and joy.
This is just as much true on the commute to work, in the cubicle, or in the living room at home. We need to first remember the gospel (all that Jesus has done for us) and then delight in that. The rivers of obedience flow out of this glorious reservoir of grace.