(This week we will be posting several articles as the Cor Deo blog goes live . . . next week we will start our regular pattern of a weekly conversation . . . )
In a lot of preaching situations it is easier to simply present the text and press home the imperatives. Whether or not there is technically an imperative in the grammar, we can easily turn a passage into an instruction and press for change through our words.
I wonder how often we miss the opportunity to go a step or two deeper and recognize the “why” behind the “should”? Typically the epistles offer lists of instructions, but in the context of the letter, these instructions are very much set in the context of theological truth. We are to present our bodies as living sacrifices, but it is in view of God’s mercies that we are to do so. We are to walk in a manner worthy, but specifically it’s in a manner worthy of the calling we have received. We are to set our hearts on things above, where Christ is, but this is in light of the Christ presented in the first two chapters.
Instruction and imperative don’t just sit on their own as burdens to place on people, but as appropriate response to the captivating truths of who God is, what He has done and so on.
As a preacher it is much easier to simply give instruction and apply pressure, but we must consider how to make sense of those instructions so that instead of pressured compliance, we might see captivated response.