Dear Preacher, Love With Intensity

The other day I was reading a prayer by Augustine in which he asked the Lord to strengthen his love for other Christians.  Machen takes this theme and applies it to the preacher.  These are outstanding words, and all Christian leaders should take them to heart.

“I know some preachers who are very good men, and very devoted to Christ, who seem somehow to let their Christianity make them cold and dead to all the movings of friendship.  They do not outwardly lead the lives of hermits; on the contrary their greatest joy is to be serving Christ by preaching his word.  Yet somehow there is an impenetrable barrier between them and other men.  You always have the feeling that whenever they speak to you it is out of a stern sense of duty, in order that they may do you some good.”

“They have no spontaneous affection for individual men – all men are to them alike, for all alike simply form a field for preaching.  The consequence is their sermons sound as though they were coming out of a phonograph [that is, impersonal – SL].  In order to prevent your words from being sounding brass or tinkling cymbal, two kinds of love are necessary – love to God and love to your hearers.  It will not do to let your hearers say, Yes, the preacher loves Christ devotedly, but he cares not one cent for me.”

Taken from pages 424-425 of Machen’s Selected Shorter Writings.

shane lems

2 thoughts on “Dear Preacher, Love With Intensity”

  1. […] Machen on Loving the Congregation Posted on July 19, 2010 by R. Scott Clark “I know some preachers who are very good men, and very devoted to Christ, who seem somehow to let their Christianity make them cold and dead to all the movings of friendship. They do not outwardly lead the lives of hermits; on the contrary their greatest joy is to be serving Christ by preaching his word. Yet somehow there is an impenetrable barrier between them and other men. You always have the feeling that whenever they speak to you it is out of a stern sense of duty, in order that they may do you some good.” Read more» […]

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  2. I’ve encountered this too and it is very discouraging. Our theology should be producing wisdom in us which consists of faith, humility, and love. But such wisdom is never complete in this life and shows us our need for Christ and that any good in us is on account of grace. Machen’s insight here is a demonstration of Christ’s grace in him. Thank God for that servant.

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