Fierce Attention and Affection

I was just reading a synopsis of an intriguing book.  The book is about the importance of conversations, both at work and at home.  Nothing to do with preaching though?  Well, perhaps more than might be obvious.  I was struck by the author’s second principle – “Come out from behind yourself into the conversation and make it real.”  She writes that it is too easy to try to please so much that the truth gets hidden away in exchange for a trinket of approval.  In the next section she writes of the need for fierce affection for the other person.  I won’t pursue that in terms of conversations, but what about our preaching?

How easily we slip into routine prayer, routine preparation, routine textual study, routine sermon forms, etc.  How different would it be if we gave a more fierce attention to the text, and pursued a more fierce affection for our listeners?  What does the text really say?  What do the listeners really struggle with?  And although it feels even less comfortable in this context, what if we fiercely prayed about the next sermon?

Ok, so the word “fierce” may seem out of place here.  I tend to agree.  But I like the thrust of it, the sense of not going through the motions, but stepping out from behind the mask of normalcy to genuinely pursue the meaning of the text, the lives of the listeners, the heart of God.  Whatever we call it, let’s go for it!