1 Corinthians 2:1-5 When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
The situation in 1st Century Corinth was not much different from ours today, although separated by 2,000 years and 20,000 km! It was a thriving seaport, priding itself in self-sufficiency and the wisdom of Greek learning and human achievements, along with the ‘normalised’ immorality that usually accompanies this sort of ‘sophistication’.
Greek culture was already exerting its influence in the infant Church. Paul was fully aware of how unfashionable his message of a crucified Saviour would be among them, how embarrassing it would be to encourage one’s neighbours and workmates to believe that their only hope for eternity was to be found in a man who claimed to be God and who died as a criminal on a cross, bearing the full impact of God’s just wrath against sin in their place. The sneers and contempt for such a strange and ‘unsophisticated’ message would have made it very tempting to modify it a bit to make it more acceptable and ‘user-friendly’.
But Paul resisted that temptation, and encouraged his readers to do the same. I wonder if we are not always as willing to face the scoffing as Paul was; if we are too anxious and ready to water down the Gospel so as not to offend and turn people off; if we are not more concerned with building up our numbers than with preaching ‘Christ and him crucified’. Are we willing to bear the offence of the cross in a stumbling, stammering way so that when people’s lives are changed by its power all the glory will go to God alone? Or are we hoping instead that our clever arguments and programs and music will make such an impression on people that they will join our fellowship without being truly humbled at the foot of the cross?
Why not read slowly through today’s verses again, and let them act as a ‘mirror’ that will allow you to see where your own thinking falls short of the Apostle’s very challenging example!? (cf James 1:22-24 – “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”)