“… I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it—and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else. “… 1 Corinthians 2:4 (The Message)
Paul was a scholar and an orator of the highest degree; he was not speaking here out of a deep sense of humility, but was saying that when he preached the gospel, he would veil the power of God if he impressed people with the excellency of his speech.
Belief in Jesus is a miracle produced only by the effectiveness of redemption, not by impressive speech, nor by wooing and persuading, but only by the sheer unaided power of God!
The creative power of redemption comes through the preaching of the gospel – but never because of the personality of the preacher!
Real and effective fasting by a preacher is not fasting from food, but fasting from eloquence, from impressive diction, and from everything else that might hinder the gospel of God being presented. The preacher is there as the representative of God— “. . . as though God were pleading through us . . .” (2 Corinthians 5:20). He is there to present the gospel of God.
If it is only because of my preaching that people desire to be better, they will never get close to Jesus Christ. Anything that flatters me in my preaching of the gospel will result in making me a traitor to Jesus, and I prevent the creative power of His redemption from doing its work.
Jesus said, “… at this moment the world is in crisis. Now Satan, the ruler of this world, will be thrown out. And I, as I am lifted up from the earth, will attract everyone to me and gather them around me.” John 12:30-33 (The Message)
… here’s a story you should perhaps recount as an ‘opener’ before you ‘preach’ anywhere …
An old fable tells of the donkey that carried Jesus around Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The donkey got up the next morning, with the afterglow of the most exciting day of his life. Never before had he felt such a rush of pleasure and pride. He walked into town and found a group of people by the well. “I’ll show myself to them,” he thought. But they didn’t notice him. They went on drawing water and ignored him. “Throw your garments down,” the donkey said crossly. “Don’t you know who I am?” They just looked at him in amazement. Someone slapped him across the tail and ordered him to move. “Miserable heathens!” he muttered to himself. “I’ll just go to the market where people will remember me.” But the same thing happened. No one paid any attention to the donkey as he elegantly walked down the main street in the market place. “Where are the palm branches!” he shouted. “Yesterday, you threw palm branches for me!” The people beat him and drove him away. Hurt and confused, the donkey returned home to his stall. “I just don’t understand it,” he said to another donkey,“they LOVED me yesterday!”