So often today we are inundated by messages from the philosophical experts telling us what and how we should know and think about things. Even as a blogger, I run the risk of being another one of those persons, a “writing head” so to speak. So as I came across this passage of scripture (1 Corinthians 1 and 2), it struck me as refreshing to hear how the Bible (not me or anyone else) advises us to examine so called “truth claims” and challenged me to critique myself in that examining process. In 1 Corinthians 1 Paul reminds us that a God empowered message is what distinguishes truth from foolishness. In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul provides criteria to determine if a/any message is God empowered. How can we know? It is all about the motivating factors for the message. What makes for good motivation supporting a true message? The fact that it does not come from a self perceived superiority of speech or wisdom, that it does not depend on the power of oneself but on the power of God through His Spirit in the speaker and that it does not rest on man’s wisdom but on God’s power through His spirit in the speaker.
What I think this does not mean is substituting an extemporaneous, unprepared and undisciplined message or musical performance “to allow God to show up” for diligent preparation. It is so easy to use this excuse to belittle and criticize those who have taken the time to prepare for a ministry and message. Practice and preparation are love offerings to our Lord. Paul spent years in the wilderness before launching out in ministry.
On the other hand, preparation is not what makes a message or performance, God’s power does. And this is what pierced my heart. Who gives us strength to spend years in the studio, the library, the study, people’s homes or under criticism for the spoken word and then brings those experiences together in an applicable way to allow truth expression? God’s power does. The Holy Spirit does. This is what Paul reminds us of. Nothing in and of ourselves, whether education, experience, place of origin (“I am from where things happen, O you of flyover country”), names (and name dropping of academically or personally encountered mentors as “experts to be reckoned with”) or gear give us a platform for messaging. Without God’s power these things all fall flat and this is sometimes easy to forget until I (or more accurately God in his grace) pick myself up from a faceplant.
Ultimately, God’s Spirit in the hearer will perceive God’s Spirit in the messenger and truth will be received. Any expressed perception and gratitude from the hearer of God’s Spirit in the messenger can be reflected back to the hearer with a simple “thanks” to the hearer and a prayer closet shout out of gratitude to the Lord.
So Lord, help me not to faceplant. I really needed to hear this from you today.