Telephone poles remind me of the cross of Christ. Think of the “lines” of communication and power it carries. Because of that cross, God listens to the prayers of any believer on the face of the earth. And because Jesus shed His blood on that cross for lost humanity, believers in Christ have a deep desire to “reach out and touch” others with the message of the gospel. For the apostle Paul, the cross was everything. He had one message when he wrote to the Corinthian believers: “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” The cross was the heart of Paul’s communication and the basis of his power. We have been called to be “cross-eyed” messengers for God.
Sometimes the most unlikely people use the most unusual means to protect and preserve others. The ministry of preaching is conducted by unlikely people through an unusual means to protect and preserve God’s people. The reality is that God calls all of us to be messengers of Jesus Christ. “But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?” (Rom 10:14).
In yesterday’s text (1 Cor 1:26-31), Paul demonstrated that God deliberately chooses foolish and weak methods and messengers to shame those who are wise and strong. Now in 1 Cor 2:1-5, Paul uses himself as a prime example of foolishness and weakness. In these five verses, we will learn that the effectiveness of the messenger and the message lies in one’s dependence on God’s power. The content of our message must be Christ, and the delivery of our message must be God’s power. In other words, God is looking for “cross-eyed” messengers.
As a well-educated rabbi, Paul knew Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Latin. Trained at the feet of Gamaliel, he could hold his own in any argument. If Paul wanted to show off his intellect, he certainly knew how to do it. But he rejected that approach. “And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.” (1 Cor. 2:1) He knew the truth and was announcing it boldly. Paul was not preaching his testimony about God; he was preaching God’s testimony about God; Paul’s message came from God, not himself. “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11)
Paul preached as he did because he chose to do it that way. “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” For Paul the choice was clear: “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” He started there and that became the center of his preaching. Once the center was in place, every other truth could be arranged around it. But Jesus must be in the middle of all things and all things must be properly related to Him.
Nothing in Paul could explain his success—except God! For a description of Paul, read 2 Cor. 10:10, “For some say, ‘His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.’” (2 Cor. 10:10) As we discussed yesterday, when God calls people to His family, He intentionally chooses those whom the world rejects.
“I came to you in weakness with great fear and 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 human wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Cor. 2:3-5) Here Paul is reiterating what he said in 1 Cor 1:29, “…so that no one may boast before Him.” Paul’s words and how he looked weren’t important; the message is what was important. When Paul delivered the message on God’s power. And that is how we should share the gospel with others — on God’s power alone. This passage shows that the content and delivery of our message must be Christ and the power of His cross. God has called us to be “cross-eyed” messengers. So how can we be cross-eyed messengers for Christ? Several biblical principles may help.
Pray for a prepared heart. Ask the Lord that He would supply you opportunities to share His Word. Pray for boldness to be willing to walk through an open door (Col 4:3). Pray that those you speak to will be receptive.
Meditate on Scripture. As you read God’s Word, ask the Lord to speak to you. Pray for insights into the text. Think about this Scripture continually. Follow a crock pot approach. Let the Word sit, soak, and simmer in you. This will ensure that you are always prepared (1 Pet 3:15).
Listen to people. When we listen to people’s hurts we can learn a lot (Proverbs 18:2). Often the felt needs of people will bring a God-given Scripture passage to mind that we can share.
Focus on the essentials. Don’t get lost in the minutia of theological details. Instead, focus on the testimony of God and Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Paul says that the power is in the gospel (1 Cor. 2:4-5). Make sure that you keep the main thing the main thing.
- NIV Study Bible
- Help Wanted: Fools for Christ