Paul was a scholar and an orator of the highest abilities. When he says that he didn’t use “wise and persuasive words” in delivering the gospel, he isn’t speaking out of self-deprecating humility. He’s saying that if he’d tried to impress people with his talent when he preached the gospel, he would have veiled the power of God. Paul knew that belief in Jesus is a miracle produced by the redemption—by the sheer, unaided power of God—not by making fancy speeches.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are called to follow Paul’s example. If we are going to preach the gospel, we must practice a special kind of fasting—not from food but rather from eloquence and impressive diction, from everything that might hinder the word of God coming through us to reach others. The power of the redemption does flow through the preaching of the gospel, but we have to recognize that this power is never due to the personality or the eloquence of the preacher.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Preachers are representatives of God. We are commissioned to present his gospel, not human ideals. If it’s only because of my charisma that people desire to be better, they’ll never get anywhere near Jesus Christ. Anything that flatters me in my preaching will end in making me a traitor to Jesus, because I will prevent the creative power of his redemption from doing its work. “And I,” said Jesus, “when I am lifted up . . . will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32).

Wisdom from Oswald

The attitude of a Christian towards the providential order in which he is placed is to recognize that God is behind it for purposes of His own.  Biblical Ethics, 99 R

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