preaching to the invisible listener

A pastor-mentor and friend of mine just passed along this quote from Kierkegaard’s Practice in Christianity.  Nice and necessary to hear time and again.

“Therefore it is a risk to preach, for as I go up into that holy place — whether the church is packed or as good as empty, whether I myself am aware of it or not, I have one listener more than can be seen, an invisible listener, God in heaven whom I certainly cannot see but who truly can see me.  This listener, he pays close attention to whether what I am saying is true, whether it is true in me, that is, he looks to see — and he can do that, because he is invisible in a way that makes it impossible to be on one’s guard against him — he looks to see if my life expresses what I am saying.  And although I do not have authority to commit to anyone else, I have committed myself to every word I have said from the pulpit in the sermon — and God has heard it. Truly it is a risk to preach!”  (XXII.215)

This quote ranks right up there with my favorite from Charles Simeon:

“My endeavor [in preaching] is to bring out of Scripture what is there, and not thrust in what I think might be there.  I have a great jealousy on this head – nmever to speak more or less than I believe to be the mind of the Spirit in the passage I am expounding.”

 I think I’ll go submissively and soberly work on my sermon.

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One thought on “preaching to the invisible listener

  1. hmmmm….very interesting quote for sure.. but doesn’t that apply to everyone….specifically this part.. (he pays close attention to whether what I am saying is true, whether it is true in me) apply to everyone?

    Doesn’t God examine what we say to our co-workers, kids, spouse’s , parents, siblings, or whatever the case may be?

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