And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness, with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. – 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
When I read these words in the first five verses of 1 Corinthians 2, it reminds me so much of my own story. I felt called into ministry when I was in high school, but at that time, I had no clue what that would look like. I did know one thing…I was NOT going to be in front of people preaching. I would be in the background, helping build churches, supporting the ministry in whatever way God would use me…in the BACKGROUND. I was terrified of speaking in front of people – I COULDN’T speak in front of people. So, I completely resonate with Paul when he says in verse 3, “I came to you in weakness, with great fear and trembling.”
When I was 19, I had the opportunity to attend a Bible college in Zambia, Africa. What an AMAZING experience! While there, I was assigned to a church where the pastor eventually asked me to preach, to which I responded, “No, I can’t speak in front of people.” I thought that was that, end of story, because what pastor would ask somebody to preach again after an answer like that? But he did ask again, about a month later, and for some reason, I gave him an opening and the next thing I knew, I was on the calendar to preach the next month.
A month and a short 10-minute sermon later (in a culture where I was expected to preach for at least an hour), I thought I had proven my point, that I could not speak in front of people. Yet after my sermon, person after person came up to me and told me how much God had spoken to them through that message. I was completely blown away, and I learned an important lesson that day. God is just looking for willing vessels to accomplish His will. You don’t have to be the most dynamic speaker or write the perfect sermon, you just have to be willing to step up and let God use you, and the Holy Spirit will work through you to accomplish His purpose. My first sermon was a mess, yet God still spoke to the hearts of His people.
Paul tells us in verse 1, he did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as he proclaimed the testimony of God. Yet, we know that he became one of the most influential people in the Early Church. He wrote 13 of the 27 books found in the New Testament, and he was considered an apostle of Jesus, even though he didn’t walk with Christ during Jesus’ earthly ministry.
God isn’t looking for perfect people to accomplish His purpose. In fact, He sometimes uses the most imperfect people you could think of. He’s all about using the weaknesses of the willing, and He turns them into strengths for His glory!
If we will just open ourselves up to let God use us however He sees fit, and despite what we think we can do, He will do wonders in us and through us. Nineteen-year-old me would have never thought he’d be here right now, having preached hundreds of sermons and being used by God to lead others into a closer walk with Jesus. Yet, here he is.
God wants to use you, no matter who you are, to lead others into a closer walk with Jesus. He only requires a willing heart.
Pastor Mike Gentry