Scripture: 1 Corinthians 2:1 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. 4 My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.
Observation: The apostle Paul is giving counsel to Christians in Corinth who are in some conflict. They are divided over how best to share the message of the gospel with non-believing Jews and Gentiles in their midst. In this passage Paul contrasts his methods with those of the orators of his day, who used “lofty words” to persuade. Put another way, in Paul’s day the authenticity of the message was often linked with the polish of the messenger. By that standard, Paul would have been a miserable failure. Paul was not impressive in the least – as far as his oratory skills or physical appearance were concerned. However what Paul lacked in visual appeal or oratory technique, he more than compensated by “demonstration of the Spirit and of power”.
Application: I’ve mentioned in this space my limited experience of what might be referred to as “the miraculous”. I’ve seen terminally ill people recover in a matter of a few hours when prayed for. I’ve seen demons called out of troubled people. I’ve seen God bring rain over a drought-stricken village in a matter of minutes. It’s astounding to witness such things, but these have been (for me) few and far between. One never knows when God will show up in such visually obvious ways. If the power of the gospel depended on such events alone, the church might be in trouble.
However what I have seen many, many times is the power of the gospel manifest, not in miraculous signs, but in acts of love, compassion, and mercy. When I first started attending a church as a young adult, the thing that appealed to me most was the genuine love and concern of the people for me – a guy they hardly knew. They were ordinary people for sure, but they embraced me like a brother (which, in Christ, I was). They not only ministered to me, but they gave me opportunities to serve others in the name of Jesus. Through that little church I began to see God’s purpose for me come to life. About four years later I enrolled in seminary. My life has never been the same.
Maybe you have a spiritual gift of miracles or healing or some other supernatural capacity. There are several listed in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. But if you’re like most people you probably don’t. However all of us have the capacity to love someone, serve someone, treat them as one of the family. My guess is, if you thought about it for a minute, someone in particular might come to mind for you – someone in need of a friend. A wise person once said, “Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words.”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach us to love others as you first loved us. Such love is the power of the gospel to transform people from the inside out. We pray this in your holy name. Amen.