this contrast between the precious quality of the message and the poor weakness of the messengers is God's deliberate evangelistic strategy .... Their human and personal weaknesses only served to demonstrate God's power, in two ways.(emphases are the author's / as printed)
Firstly, the results. Paul's personal weakness emphasised that the results of his ministry ... came not from his own powers of persuasion but from the power of the gospel. Nothing could explain the effect of Paul's ministry but the power of the message he taught. Secondly, the motivation. Costly and painful opposition to his ministry meant that he couldn't be motivated by anything but the truth. Since he derived no personal benefit from his evangelism, the only explanation for his determined perseverance was that his message was true.
This is important for us to understand. Many of us will be very aware of our personal inadequacy and weakness in evangelism. Of course, it remains helpful to be gifted and to work hard at explaining the truth plainly .... But our weakness is, by God's grace, a strength. Of course, poor planning, careless words and unwelcoming attitudes will always be damaging to our evangelism. But God chooses to work powerfully through the gospel message delivered by his ordinary messengers.
This is convincing power - to keep evangelising when it plainly costs us so much. God does this so that it is obvious to those he is saving that the only reason people believe this message must be because it is true (for there is no other selling point), and the only reason we do our evangelism is because it is true (for there is no benefit to us but only costly discomfort). So we must stop wishing that we had somebody famous, something advantageous, somewhere impressive before attempting to offer the gospel to our family, friends and colleagues. After all, the gospel does offer people Jesus, forgiveness and the kingdom of God!
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
the weak evangelist
in an article titled "honest to God evangelism" from the latest issue of the briefing (#328, january 2006), author richard coekin sets up four boundaries/guidelines within which the task of evangelism should operate. #4 is accepting our own weakness - taking the example of the apostle paul, who underwent all manner of opposition and hardships in the course of his ministry, richard writes: