I read a book about preaching as a college student that still impacts my sermons today. The book is called “Preaching the Connects” by Mark Galli, and while I do not remember much of the book, there is one section that inspired me. He wrote that one of the maxims in newspaper writing is “show, don’t tell.” And the concept was that a good writer would use word pictures, anecdotes, and illustrations to explain what they are trying to communicate. So out of that, I developed a simple question I ask myself when preaching, “What does that look like?
Reading a Biblical passage, developing a thesis, and a few points supporting it is relatively easy as a preacher. You can take a text and clearly outline what it says, but that is only half the work. The next question must always be, “But what does that look like?
What does it look like today if someone were to take this passage seriously? How would someone’s life look if they truly loved God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength? How might a person love their neighbor as themselves on social media? What actions would come from a person trying to encourage other believers? There are a thousand ways this plays out in our minds.
This question is essential because aphorisms are easy to affirm and complicated to apply. People don’t just need more Christian teaching and advice. They need to know how to implement it into their lives. What does it look like to live that way? Show me, don’t simply tell me.
Since most of you are not preachers, I would ask you to apply this concept in two ways. One, whenever you read your Bible and see a lesson being taught, stop and ask yourself where you have seen this idea implemented. What stories and people have embodied this truth? Use it as a bridge to application in your life.
Second, take the question with you whenever you hear someone preach or teach. Listen closely and write down the main concepts and then ask it for yourself?
The Bible is not only for learning about God and the work of Jesus. It is for transforming our lives into the people of God. With the proper study and questions, you can become the kind of person who embodies what it means to follow Jesus. You can look like what you are learning.