For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel not with words of human wisdom, let the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 1 Corinthians 1:17
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. I Corinthians 1:18
God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; He chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong…the lowly things and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are so that no one may boast before Him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus. 1 Corinthians 1:27-30
I got a flier in the mail this week from a Bible study company and flipped through it. One page was an ad for a cruise with “your favorite Bible teacher.” Another page, ads for an event in several cities with a dozen or so attractive thirty something women on a pretty topic. No older women, less attractive, handicapped ones could speak? “Stop it,” I thought.
Then in my reading through the Bible in a year chronologically I sat down to these verses in 1 Corinthians. It took me back to the two ladies that I became a Christian through in the tiny country Vacation Bible School fifty some years ago. They used a flannel board, a flannel Jesus and song lyrics written on tag board. They persistently talked about Jesus with no other props. They came to my community with no other Gospel witness for over 35 years, armed with the love of Jesus and a commitment to serve Him like no other I have seen.
They wrote to me every month from the time I was 13 until I was almost 30. They discipled me in the faith and would call me “their Timothy.” They probably wouldn’t have made it as headliners at a women’s weekend. Nor would I. That’s not how God made me and that’s not where God has planted me. And somehow, that’s how He has made the message of the cross to be. It’s not to be glitzy or glamorous, lest it be emptied of its power.
It is not to be bedazzled, though we want to pretty it up. A friend of mine told how she had a mentor named Ethyl who had the gift of faith. She would go fishing with Ethyl and Ethyl would know where to fish because God would tell her. Ethyl would do more big things than just bring home big catches of fish, she would allow God to use that gift of faith all over the place to do big things through her. Only thing was, she never drew attention to herself.
When she was old, she wrote a little book about all of the things that God did and she called it, “Ethyl Nobody.” This was years before self publishing and marketing, so I haven’t been able to find that book. I wish I could. I’ve thought about that title, and have thought that one day I’d like to write a book like that before I die and title it, “Martha Nobody.” God has done so many things in and through me, just like He did with the dear old ladies with the flannel board, a flannel Jesus, and cardboard song lyrics.
Better than that, they were armed with the message of the Gospel, the love of Jesus, and the conviction that if they kept telling it that God would change lives and eventually it would change the world. It has changed my world.
*Image from Feltark