Having spent all my life in churches and multiple services a week, you would think that I have heard it all and at times, I think I have. But there are times when I am struck all over again by Scripture and God’s work in the world like it is my first epiphany. A large part of what contributes to those moments is the speaker. I can tell when a speaker is excited about his or her subject and I can usually tell when the speaker is simply not in touch with their material.
I would have to agree with the sentiment, and I would add that I think it actually takes effort to make something as alive as Scripture dead in the hearer’s ears. Maybe it is dead to the speaker or maybe they are not convinced of its power and majesty; maybe they simply haven’t put in the effort it takes to pay careful attention to the Word.
I was reminded of this point when I read this passage from Chesterton’s Heretics:
Suffice it to say here that the only serious reason which I can imagine inducing any one person to listen to any other is, that the first person looks to the second person with an ardent faith and a fixed attention, expecting him to say what he does not expect him to say. It may be a paradox, but that is because paradoxes are true. It may not be rational, but that is because rationalism is wrong. But clearly it is quite true that whenever we go to hear a prophet or teacher we may or may not expect wit, we may or may not expect eloquence, but we do expect what we do not expect. We may not expect the true, we may not even expect the wise, but we do expect the unexpected. If we do not expect the unexpected, why do we go there at all? If we expect the expected, why do we not sit at home and expect it by ourselves?
How often do people hear what they expect to hear week after week in their pastor’s sermon? How often have we pastors put in the effort it takes to get something fresh and inspired out of a book we have probably read several dozen times cover-to-cover? How often do people walk out of the doors of the church excited to get home and open their Bibles?