I have been preaching some sermons lately about the lessons we can take from the movies — combating real-world monsters, the difference between “sci” and “fi,” that sort of thing. It’s basically a naked attempt to grab the attention of young people with a spiritual message that, in the absence of sparkly vampires and talking turtles, they might ignore. Future sermons are likely to include lessons on the vigilante mentality (action movies), the false allure of “love at first sight” (romances), and the willingness to take a stand for principle (westerns). Y’all come.
I make no apologies for finding different packages for the same message. How many parables did Jesus tell about the need for the Jewish nation to repent, and the disaster that would come if it did not? Five? Ten? Maybe someone unmoved by the story of a worthless fig trees might perk up at the notion of one about a spurned dinner invitation. Throw lots of darts at the board; maybe one will stick.
Although my illustrations do not bear comparison with the Lord’s (to put it mildly), I give them for the same purpose: to make the message easier to hear and apply. Perhaps the Lord’s stories elicited a laugh or two. (Does anyone read Matthew 7:2 and not chuckle?) But that was not entertainment. That was teaching.
I would like to be known as a preacher who is easy to listen to. But I have to be cautious about that. Preachers whose priority is retaining their audiences invariably veer from the truth and take the crowd with them (2 Timothy 4:3-5). I would rather be Will Kane from High Noon than “the Great and Powerful Oz.”