1 Corinthians 2:3-5 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
I think it’s funny when someone trips and then tries to make it seem like they did it on purpose. You have probably seen it too. It happens very fast so you have to watch closely. First the shoe catches on something causing it’s victim to stagger and almost fall. But the too-cool-for-words dude tries to play it off like it was part of some funky limp walk. It goes like this: trip, catch balance, dip, walk, sway, dip, walk. It’s a cool new strut! And just in case anyone was looking – I did that on purpose!
Unfortunately, I think I have done that. Paul might have done it too, except in the more spiritual sense. When I was reading this today, I had to wonder – did Paul really preach a weak, fearful, unpersuasive and pretty much lame sermon on purpose? Would he really have dumbed down a message so much that people thought he was really dumb? Did he trip and say, “I did that on purpose?” I don’t think I will ever know. Maybe it was that when he came to them the first time he just wasn’t that great at teaching yet. Maybe he has learned alot since then. By the time he wrote this letter, he had figured some things out. Who knows? But he claims he did it on purpose, so I guess I will just have to believe him.
Don’t get me wrong, the sermon was effective; it worked. The reason it worked was because Paul was full of the Holy Spirit and God’s power came through (see yesterday’s blog). Whether Paul totally stunk it up at the pulpit or he dumbed it down on purpose, it worked. It doesn’t matter really, I guess. The whole point is that Paul let the Holy Spirit be the one to do the talking. This man, a man full of intelligent ramblings, a man who has written some of the deepest theological thoughts of all time, tripped on purpose. And he did it so that people would not believe the man, but believe by the power of the Holy Spirit. The power of God was present in his conversations and his sermons. The power of God came through because he got himself out of the way and let God shine through.
Many of us don’t have the liberty of pretending we aren’t that smart in order that the Holy Spirit takes the lead. No, we don’t have to pretend at all; we just aren’t that smart. But whether we trip on purpose or not, we have the same ability that Paul had to let the power of God take the lead in our lives. If we could just get us and our words out of the way and let Him take the lead, we would be more effective leading others to him. I think Paul had his approach dialed in quite well. You see, it is not a persuasive intellectual presentation that draws people to God – it is the Spirit and power of God that does that. If we are willing to be used by Him in such a way that we get out of the way, the results will be staggering.