Gospel Focus Part II: Forgetting Nothing While Teaching, Living and Breathing Gospel
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1–5 ESV)
Lately I have been researching Race. In and of itself that is an act of Instigation. In our country right now and nearly anywhere you could travel the division of ethnic groups by pigmentation is rightly contentious. I take a great amount of interest in subjection due to racism and the reconciliation that Christ’s death demands, the expansive idea of the African Diaspora and those displaced within the continent as well, and what it takes for a pink person like myself to listen intelligently and speak Gospel into the meta-idea of Race.
At the end of this article I will be posting two pieces of media. The first is an audio clip of our Pastor speaking during our Commissioning Service. The second is a video of two people whom I deeply respect and listen to on the topic of Race. That clip is also a conversation that perfectly portrays exactly what I Corinthians 2.1–5 conveys.
What follows however is a short commentary on the Apostle Paul’s words above. If you know me at all you know I am not at risk of “proclaiming…with lofty speech or wisdom.” It is always too easy to enter any conversation wanting only to give an opinion or stand in the danger-less realm of cultural nicety instead of diligently listening to an individual’s need. Then graciously handing them the bold-hard truth of Christ’s atoning work on the Cross. Not pushing aside the need they perceive or ignorantly abusing them with Scripture as weapon but extending them the invitation to take hold of “Christ and him crucified.”
Throughout the pre-field process Tara and I have worked diligently to make sure that everything we convey to Ministry Partners relates to the world we will be entering in a couple of weeks and Christ in that world. Back to social media as an example, there may have been some interesting food articles along the way but these are typically because I get all nerdy about it. Nearly everything else related to or informed the method in which the Gospel is most effectively shared in the context of South Africa, or communities of color, or impoverished segments of society. The goal was to never be cute with the news but to communicate everything that we should consider when knowing nothing but Christ and him crucified.
I love Paul’s admission in the text that playing this singular note of the Gospel seems like stupidity. It does not make any sense. Instead it gives the feeling of being naked with just a strip of cloth to cover you. Because of that those who heard and believed were not doing so because Paul was such a cool guy or a great speaker or so culturally relevant that they were compelled by his personality to believe. No, it was “the Spirit of power” and God’s graciousness to show his power that affected the lives and souls of the Corinthian churches.
In South Africa I make it my business to know as much as humanly possible about the culture, current events, history, politics, fringes of society, and enough versions of the countries future to not be surprised. But at the end of the day when words need to come out of my mouth they are not editorial notes that fall flat in a ignorant and failed attempt to tell others about their own national identity. They are words that shepherd others to the One and only thing that can unite and reconcile. A person whose name holds power because of the work that he accomplished on our behalf.
As we all go. As we all are sent we must not forget the particulars of our destination but we must commit ourselves solely to preaching, teaching, living and breathing Gospel.