I once asked a number of people which verses came to mind when they thought about preaching. I had already gone to one of the concordances and looked up verses where the English words preaching, preacher, or preach occur, and I found that, even in these cases, which do not reflect all occurrences of the Greek and Hebrew root words (these are also translated “proclaim,” “make known,” “speak,” and so on), there are 150 verses. But when I began to ask my question, people referred again and again to one verse, 1 Corinthians 1:21, which says, “God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
I think that says something about the way many people regard what they hear coming from the pulpit. They think of it as foolishness. In the minds of many, the content of preaching, and perhaps even the delivery of the sermon itself, is a very foolish thing.
Is preaching really foolishness? It obviously is in some sense because Paul uses that word. Indeed, preachers will often say that there are times when they feel foolish as they try to bring a word from God to those living in the midst of a secular culture. Yet when we look at the passage from which that word comes, it is perfectly evident, even on a very superficial reading, that the apostle is using this word foolishness in a specialized sense. He is talking about that which is foolish in the world’s eyes, but which in actuality is the wisdom of God unto salvation.