Sunday, January 15, 2012
Paul’s Preaching - He Was On To Something I’d Like to See More of Today
I wonder what would happen in our churches and nation, for that matter, if we preachers modeled the Apostle Paul's preaching?
"...I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness - timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God." (1 Corinthians 2:2-5 NLT)
His methodology seemed to be driven by his understanding of the nature of the Gospel,
"...when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it's all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1 Corinthians 1:23-24 NLT)
Right up front, Paul conceded that there would be push back from his audience. He knew that some wouldn’t just ignore the message, they would be offended by it, (his preaching caused enough riots to warrant that assumption) and others would write him off as a fool.
That didn’t lead Paul to adjust the message or the delivery. It didn’t prompt him to rely on gimmicks or other stage events in order to create or maintain an audience or following. No need for smooth public relations or media hype in developing a mega ministry. He felt no need for personal recognition, prominence, prestige or power.
He evidently did not measure his success by how popular he was in the community to which he brought the gospel. He didn’t measure success by how many red carpets met his arrival.
“In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food.” (2 Corinthians 6:4-5 NLT)
On the contrary, success was measured by his faithfulness not his acceptance.
“We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us.” (2 Corinthians 6:6-8 NLT)
His ministry model stands in stark contrast to the boastful pride of America’s worldly and commercially driven ministry empires and personality cults promoting personal success, materialism and prosperity.
“We are ignored even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.” (2 Corinthians 6:9-10 NLT)
Paul’s secret? His acknowledgment that ministry he was not about him but about the glory of God.
“We now have this light [the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ] shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”
Paul’s example continues to fascinate me in its stark contrast to how many preachers play church today. He was on to something I’d like to see more of today.