There has been a bit of controversy that has been filling my news feed lately regarding a Gospel singer and an extremely popular actress/television host. Allow me to catch you up. A Gospel singer named, Kim Burrell spoke (rather passionately) at a church where she addressed the sin of homosexuality, calling it perversion and saying to people that there is freedom from that sin in Christ. Now she was slated to appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and when it was exposed what Kim Burrell had said, Ellen rescinded Kim’s invitation and then proceeded to discuss with another well-known singer how we all need to be loving and tolerant, with the singer agreeing and replying “God is love”.
Now there are several areas of which I could address regarding this situation, but I want to speak more broadly on what Kim Burrell was trying to do rather than what specifically was said. What Kim Burrell was attempting to do was to preach the Word of God, and that activity alone is highly offensive.
Preaching, unlike other forms of communication, intends to rattle the soul and expose the depravity of man’s nature in light of God’s word. The preacher, in effect is the one who holds the mirror to the listener, showing them their miserable condition and at the same time pointing to the remedy. The revivalist George Whitefield once was quoted saying “It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased neither with himself nor with the preacher”. Preaching is hardly a relaxed persuasive speech or talk; it is however, like a bolt of lightning, when it descends it brings both heat and light.
Preaching like that has never been main stream or received well by the majority. Yes, men like George Whitefield preached to thousands in the open-air, Charles Spurgeon (who would be called the “Prince of Preachers”) packed out churches and Billy Graham filled stadiums all across the globe yet for the most part, these men and many others like them and their “preaching” were regarded by their contemporaries as well as many today, as fools blustering out absurdities.
There is indeed a foolishness to preaching. In 1 Corinthians 1:23, Paul says “we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles…” Why is preaching considered foolish to the unbelieving world? To expand on the answer that Paul gives in verse 27 where it says “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise…”, is that preaching breaks every rule of public speaking in regards to winning your audience. Preaching in essence, takes the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and chucks it out the window because popularity or persuasion is not the ultimate objective, faithfulness to the command of Scripture and the proclamation of truth are the main goals.
What Kim Burrell said about sin was highly offensive. However, how else do we expect people who feel that their lives are okay, and regardless of personal choices believe that we all should “live and let live and love and let love,” respond when someone says that framework is destructive, or call, as the Bible calls, sinful? Of course they are going to be offended!
What Kim Burrell was trying to do behind a pulpit, was to speak about the salient sins of the day, as would any preacher. Now whether or not she belongs behind a pulpit is beyond the scope of this column, but one thing is for sure that Biblically speaking about sin, she was dead on. In fact all this uproar about what she said coming from the media is understood. Again what do we expect from those who are “perishing” and are “naturally minded”(1 Cor. 1:20, 2:14)?
To those who would call Kim Burrell a “bigot”, “hateful” or “unloving”, what they would call Jesus if he were here today. Jesus, the most loving and compassionate person that has ever existed or will ever exist addressed the heinousness of sin and called for people to turn away from it (Mk 1:15). He was not bashful in saying that those who don’t, will indeed make their abode in Hell.
I don’t have to wonder what would happen to Jesus if he were here today. 2000 years ago, he came to this earth and was persecuted and eventually crucified for telling the truth. The same fate awaits anyone who is bold to tell the truth and point people to the Truth.