Content Matters More Than Presentation




Scripture:

1Cor. 1:26   Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, 29 so that no one might boast in the presence of God. 30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Observation:

Corinthian society boasted of many orators. These were individuals who had studied the art of speech and verbal presentation. Day by day there were those who shared their points of view and opinions to the gathered people. They won their arguments with their eloquence and presentation. 

Now God was calling all variety of individuals to preach the gospel. All the human divisions of Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female were destroyed in light of Christ. Those who were being called were not necessarily held in high esteem by those in authority. They did not have positional power, but they were chosen by God. It was by using weak vessels that the power of God was revealed. 

The power of God was so great that through ordinary vessels he was able to take down those who valued their places of position. The resulting humility before God was to be experienced by all of humanity. 

Finally, we are brought to the real content of the matter. Jesus is the content of our lives and has replaced the wisdom of this world. This was spoken directly to the elite of the day. They needed to understand that Jesus was greater than anything that the elite could produce. The end result for us, is that we are made righteous, holy and redeemed. There is no reason to boast, which the fine orators of the day would have done, in whether one was well-born or well-educated. Instead, no one was to boast about anything,  but being in Jesus Christ. 

Application:

The small church of today has no way of competing with the local big-box giant who is able to provide far more in the way of presentation than the small church will ever be able to afford. The folks attending the big-box, at times, are pleased to share (boast) about all that their church is doing and how much money they are raising, etc. The pastor boasts about his/her book sales and the number of hits that they get on their social media accounts. It’s easy to get carried away by the influence of consumerism and the social contexts of the day which have become a part of our church society. 

This is not to say that it happens with every big-box church, for there are many who are doing an excellent job, but the are not the only parts of the body of Christ. Often there are other places, small local churches, where the content is just as good, or even better than at the big-box down the road. The problem is that the presentation may not be as good and so we are attracted to the nicer presentation. I think that the Apostle Paul would argue that we may just be attracted to the wrong thing. 

I don’t now how many parents I have heard tell me that they need to go to the big-box for the sake of their children and/or teenagers. Good presentation may make your children want to go to church, but it doesn’t mean that they are getting to know Jesus. Many faithful followers of Christ today will tell you that they came from the small church, the place that had very little to offer in terms of presentation, and yet, in that place they really found Jesus. Theodore of Cyr, speaking in the early centuries of Christianity had some strong words for eloquent preachers: “If Paul had chosen only the most eloquent and gifted people as preachers they would have gloried in their own abilities and been damned for it, whether they preached the truth or not.” (COMMENTARY ON THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS 173)  The problem with good presentation is that it can become a substitute for the gospel. 

When’s the last time you heard a church leader boasting about Jesus? What we do should not about numbers, or church growth, but about Jesus only! Jesus came and brought righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Let’s talk about these things! Let’s preach about these things! Let’s preach Jesus! Then, let’s boast, not about the presentation, but about what Jesus is doing in our midst. 

Prayer:

Lord, every day may the journey take me deeper into your presence. May you be reflected in my life and to the world around me. May we boast in you, and you alone! Amen. 

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