For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. – 1 Corinthians 1.17From Sam Lomas:
When Paul said that Christ didn’t send him to baptize, he certainly wasn’t minimising the importance of baptism. Baptism was commanded by Jesus himself (Matthew 28.19) and practiced throughout the early church (Acts 2.41) as it is today. Paul was simply highlighting the role within Christ’s body that he had been called to. Paul’s gift was preaching and so that’s what he did.
In the light of Jesus’ cross and resurrection, which we celebrated last weekend, I am struck here by the way Paul explains the power of the cross when it comes to sharing our faith with others. Often in the context of sharing our faith, fear can grip us. In particular, the fear of saying the wrong words or not making sense. Perhaps we are afraid of not doing Jesus justice. Or maybe the opposite is true. Maybe you fall into the trap of overusing impressive words in an attempt to out-do the person listening with an extravagant argument.
I can certainly relate to feeling both of these when attempting to share my faith.
Yet, in the verse above, Paul explains that when sharing the Gospel, you don’t need to be a great speaker with a large vocabulary to share the Good News effectively. The persuasive power is in the story, not the storyteller. When I consider my most “successful” Jesus conversations… they have often occurred when I have felt inadequate to share the Gospel in my own strength, thus relying on the power of cross.
Of course, Paul was not against those who carefully prepare what they say. But he was against those who try to impress others with their knowledge or speaking ability. It is an issue of motivation and reliance. To rely on our own strength when sharing the Good News is to empty the cross of its power.
So when your next opportunity arises to share Jesus with someone, don’t overthink what you might say or how to say it. Instead, say a short prayer under your breath, “Lord, please help me share something of You with such and such. Amen”. Then, wait on the Lord and allow the power of the cross to work through you.