Scripture: 1 Corinthians 2:1-13
Key verses: (1-2) “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.”
Reflection: Are you someone who has fear of public speaking? I’ve heard it is one of the biggest fears of people in the US, with Psychology today estimating that 25% of people experience this fear. This makes sense to me as I know people who are even uncomfortable getting on the phone to order a pizza. Maybe we are afraid of saying the wrong thing, perhaps we have a negative view of ourselves when speaking, maybe the fear is one of acceptance or rejection. Whatever is behind the fear or uncomfortableness of public speaking, there seems to be the thought that there are the right words to use out there in the right order and we just don’t have them.
The Apostle Paul, who is never short on words, who has said himself that he is quite smart (Philippians 3:5), and has gone off on long monologues about the gospel says in our text for today that he is not going to use lofty words or wisdom to proclaim the mystery of God. If Paul has the gift to speak beautifully, stringing together thoughts and themes in a convincing manner why wouldn’t he do that? Instead, Paul declares that he decided to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Perhaps Paul recognized that his lofty words at times would distract from Christ and shine the light on him, perhaps Paul found that his beautiful words were sometimes more confusing than helpful, perhaps Paul found that simplicity can point to the profound mystery of Christ’s good news. (I’m talking to you people who say, “I’ve gotten so much more out of the children’s sermon than the actual sermon”!) For whatever reason, Paul is focusing on simply knowing Christ crucified, realizing that the power of Christ’s servant nature speaks for itself. This Lenten season as we ponder the cross, may you be reassured that it is not up to us to get the words just right or to string together the perfect phrases to make Christ’s love known. Instead, if we focus on the sacrificial life of Christ, and live in that way, even imperfect as we are, the mystery of God will be made known.
Prayer: Holy God, guide us this day, surround us by your Spirit, open us to your love that we may love one another. Amen.
Author: John Magnuson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].