November 16, 2021
Scripture: And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ESV
Observation: Here, Paul reiterates that the Gospel is not to become a showcase for one’s oratory skills or to display wisdom and intelligence (see chapter 1, verse 17). So why the emphasis? Paul writes to a church (he helped establish) comprised of both Jews and Gentiles. Together, they resided in a prospering port community highly influenced by a Greek culture that valued wisdom and oratory skills.
Takeaway: It would be tempting to appeal to the affinities of an audience that prized intellect and insight. But Paul, himself highly educated and an expert of rabbinical argument, refused to showcase his skills to please the crowds. Far be it from him to steal the attention of his listeners from our Gospel with attention-seeking devices. For when we make the message about us, we rob the Gospel of its power. We may draw a crowd, and many may appear to come to faith, but if we get in the way of the work of the Holy Spirit, then our listeners will place their trust in us rather than the message. This dynamic is evident when a famous preacher or Christian leader has to step down from their ministry due to moral failure. Often, many leave the church because they had misplaced their faith in the person rather than the message.
In contrast, when we follow the lead of the Holy Spirit and seek the welfare of our listeners, no matter how eloquent we are, our Gospel message will reach their minds and hearts with transformative power. In short, the best way to proclaim the Gospel is to keep it simple: introduce Jesus and get out of the way. The Holy Spirit will take it from there.
Prayer: Father God, thank you for those men and women who faithfully introduced us to Christ through the power of his Gospel. Would you please help us do the same, avoiding the pitfall of making the message about us and our presentations? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling