Did you see the Kony 2012 video? It reveals a horrific evil taking place in Africa. Many who watched it were stirred to do something. But what? As the debate over what to do grew, the determination to do it shrank. What can we do about the darkness in the world? A lot.
Christians have the most powerful weapon against evil the world has ever seen: the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the only hope; and only Christians posses it.
That said, here are three facts about the gospel from 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. Get to know your weapon:
1. It is merely foolish to some; but extremely powerful to others.
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (v.18)
Foolish things are easily dismissed. This is how many respond to the gospel, passing by it like I pass by The National Enquirer in the check-out line. They don’t care about it. It doesn’t apply to them. It’s folly. Powerful things are not easily dismissed. Like the ring in The Lord of the Rings, once you have it, you hold on tight. You can see a mix of both reactions in any group of people who have heard the gospel: church congregations, families, groups of friends or family, and humanity in general.
So, Christian, as you tell people about Jesus; don’t expect everyone to take it seriously. Many won’t. But some will be saved. It’s like tossing a lifesaver into a crowd of drowning people. Those who see it for what it is and cling to it will be pulled to safety.
2. It sets aside, contradicts, and surpasses human wisdom and power.
…I will destroy the wisdom of the wise… (v.19)
God’s wisdom doesn’t just surpass mankind’s, it contradicts it, destroys it, thwarts it, and turns it into foolishness (v.19-20).
The world thinks signs and wisdom are best (v.22), but God gives the preaching of Jesus as the one tool for changing the world. Just people telling people about Jesus. You may say, “That’s not going to be enough to really do anything about the Kony’s of the world.” But according to God, it can.
3. It results in the opposite of human boasting: worship.
God chose what is low and despised in the world… so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (v.28)
Paul points out in verse 26 that Christians aren’t necessarily wise, powerful, or of high class according to worldly standards. His point isn’t that Christians are losers; but that God’s work in the world isn’t an academic, influential, lifestyle sort of movement. It’s a miracle movement.
God’s life-changing work the world is done through the gospel and the gospel isn’t spread by wisdom, power, or class influence. It’s spread only by telling people about Jesus.
What is the greatest Christian who ever lived? What is the greatest church that ever was? The fact is, we’ve probably never heard of the greatest Christian or the greatest church because their work only pointed to God, not themselves.
Think of how the gospel spreads in countries that persecute Christians. Those believers don’t have static clings on their cars and cool websites, yet the gospel moves forward with power. And we think, “Good for you, God. You did all by yourself,” like a parent speaking to their kid. But we are the children that God allows to go to work with him. We don’t realize how much our efforts actually slow him down.
When one becomes a Christian, he becomes a straight arrow pointing to God. A straight arrow cannot point to itself. This is what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:5, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord…”
Picture this: Christians engaged in epic work of evangelism and discipleship as individuals and families and communities; the gospel spreading and powerfully changing lives; and there being no explanation but this: Jesus is who he claims the be.
It begins with you and me. People telling people about Jesus.
(Next week, we discuss the specific, practical strategy for making disciples of all nations.)
- Think back and list the primary people in your life who told you about Jesus? How did they do it? How did you respond?
- Is the word of the cross folly to you, or is it the very power of God? Is it easy for you to dismiss, or are you fascinated by it? (v.18)
- In what ways does the gospel destroy and thwart the wisdom of the wise? (v.19)
- Why do you think God determined that he would not be known through signs or human wisdom, but only through Jesus? (v.21)
- What does it look like to preach Christ crucified in real life?
- How might we (Dulin’s Grove) proclaim not ourselves, but Jesus, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:5)?
- Who has God placed in your life right now that needs to hear about Jesus?