Word vs. Power - 1 Corinthians 4

Thoughts from the Sycomore’s weekly reading of Romans…

1 Corinthians 4:18 Now some have become arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. 20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power.

Something really cool happened to me yesterday. I was at Panera waiting to meet a Pastor John. While I was waiting, I noticed a man with a cane sitting down right behind me. I wanted to pray for him, but started to wrestle with whether I should or not. My excuse was—what if he didn’t speak English (so ridiculous when I think about it now!). As I was still wrestling with this, Pastor John came in. I accidently greeted him as Pastor Paul. I thought that that was weird and I apologized. When he went to get a cup of coffee, I turned around and struck up a conversation with the man with the cane. I introduced myself and when I asked his name, he said his name was, guess what… PAUL! I was so taken aback. I told him the story and he was really shocked. I asked if I can pray for him and he said absolutely and that he was a Christian. You know what, Paul wasn’t healed physically, but after saying bye to me, when he walked out, he sure looked different—a little less weary, a little more skip in his step, as if he had encountered the Living God.

We are about to start a series at our church on the subject of evangelism. There’s a stigma that’s been consistent in the church regarding evangelism—that it’s only meant for pastors, leaders, or how about this one—“those with the gift of evangelism.” Most of this stigma’s basically derived from the fact that we’re just terrified of talking to perfect strangers about Jesus or that we just do not have the ability or words to share. I don’t know about you, but these sure sounds more like our own fears and insecurities speaking rather than a lack of skill or “giftedness” thing. The truth is that not everyone does have the gift of evangelism. However, the other part of this truth is that though not everyone has the gift of evangelism, everyone has been called to evangelize. We always think of evangelism as—having someone give their lives to Jesus. And though that is the ultimate goal, we forget that there is a whole process and a journey that goes along with that. If we approach evangelism as each of us being a PART of the process rather than being the ENTIRE process, I think that we would be relieved of so much of the pressure of evangelism.

Today’s text talks about those who “talk” a good game. Their words (or literally “word”—it’s fascinating that however much those who are arrogant may say, all those many fancy or convincing words are simply clumped together as one meaningless word!), no matter how good and maybe even truthful they may be, cannot compare to the power that demonstrates this truth. You see, fancy words, no matter how truthful they may be, always seem to point back to the one speaking them. We on the other hand, couldn’t possibly take credit for the power that only comes from God. It’s a matter of “presents” (giftedness) vs. “presence” (as in the presence of our Holy God). With this said, maybe we’ve approached evangelism incorrectly. I’m not saying that spoken truths have no place in evangelism. They do—as in the case with Paul at the Panera. However, no matter how amazing our words may be, without us realizing that it is actually the “presentation” of God’s power or the representation of His glorious presence that is the greatest form of evangelism. There’s nothing fancy about presenting His power (His power is glorious, our presentation is not!). It’s actually His gift to us and to those we are speaking to. We simply take the step of faith that God is going to show up and let Him do the rest.

Love, Sam