Pay attention to the tension in your body. Let go of it and any expectations to do anything other than God’s will today. Prepare yourself to hear God’s word.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (NRSV)
When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.
In a sagacious effort to abdicate his own authority, Paul felt it superfluous to rely upon a pretentious or surreptitious defense of the Gospel but instead submissively entrusted his rhetoric to the awesome and overwhelming work of the Holy Spirit. You see what I did there? Words matter. Big words, little words, and all words in between. Communicating and defending our thoughts is important as well. Professionals are especially attuned to their language and rhetoric. We are a developed nation and the civic conversation often centers on those who can out speak or out write one another. There is a constant power struggle in the political and intellectual landscape. Yet, I feel as if Christians have access to a perfect defense but fall into secular patterns of apologetics.
There are several ways we can fall into the trap of relying on our own knowledge. More often than not, we inflate our credentials or exaggerate our experiences to gain credibility. I’ve noticed in my own life that I can change the story in such a small way so as to disclose just enough to impress someone. Exaggeration almost always follows pretense especially when we’re trying to gain the favor and attention of others. Knowledge is power and we are often swayed by power more than we realize.
Another danger in our patterns of communication is that of false piety. Leaders in the Christian church are very susceptible to this. Christ calls us to be humble so we guise our language to reflect this even if our heart has no desire for meekness. We hide behind the cross in order to bolster our own credibility. We say things like “God make this more about you and less about me” or “it’s not about me” although we’re glad that we’re the ones with the audience.
One of the last ways we rely on our own knowledge is by being content with ignorance or neglecting due diligence in study. Sometimes we’re content with an irrational defense of the gospel instead of a defense that is higher than rationality. We wield ignorance like a bludgeon and say things like “I don’t need theology I just need Jesus” or “God said, I believe it, and that settles it.” These are easy defenses for when we don’t want to rely on a power beyond ourselves to defend us.
Paul’s disposition shows us where to start; in weakness with fear and trembling. Each of these dangers I’ve mentioned can be avoided if we begin by acknowledging that our defense of the mysteries of our faith is insufficient without the power of the Holy Spirit. Human wisdom may tell us that we’re loved because we’re worth it but wisdom from the power of the Holy Spirit will tell us we’re loved with the sacrificial love of Christ and our love only comes through God’s renewing power. Let’s dedicate ourselves to the mystery of this gospel, Jesus Christ and him crucified. May everything else fall away.
God, you are the giver of all knowledge. In our attempt to rise to the top we often fall. Remind us of who you are and how futile it is to rely upon our own power. Empower us in your love today. Amen.
Go with God.