“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.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2)
In many contemporary Christian churches there is an emphasis on what will draw people in to church services. One major trend seeks to use flashy music, worship teams, videos, and inspiring preaching that seeks to encourage and equip people to achieve their full potential. Often such church services resemble concerts or motivational seminars.
Such trends are nothing new as Paul notes in this first letter to the church at Corinth. He proclaimed the gospel without persuasive or manipulative words and methods but with the word of God. He preached the cross of Christ because it displayed the power and wisdom of God in fulfilling His wonderful plan. Such preaching is foolishness to those who value worldly wisdom, which consists of philosophical arguments, linking proof with proof to persuade listeners to accept the validity of the speaker’s message. This type of rhetoric was held in high esteem in ancient times, much as it is today, but those who place their trust in human rhetoric find themselves on shaky ground. Such wisdom (if indeed it can be called wisdom) can never approach the greatness of God’s wisdom. Man’s works fall far short of God’s in every respect.
Paul did not preach things that he knew people wanted to hear, but what they needed to hear. He did not say things that made people comfortable in their sins. He did not overwhelm people with false promises and fancy words. He did not compromise the gospel in any way. This is because his preaching was not done with smug self-centered and self-righteous power but in humble weakness. Human weakness is the medium through which divine power operates and the domain in which it is displayed. The power of the cross of Christ is perfected in our weakness.