“For the carrying on of his work, Christ did not choose the learning or eloquence of the Jewish Sanhedrin or the power of Rome. Passing by the self-righteous Jewish teachers, the Master Worker chose humble, unlearned men to proclaim the truths that were to move the world. These men he purposed to train and educate as the leaders of his church. They in turn were to educate others and send them out with the gospel message. That they might have success in their work they were to be given the power of the Holy Spirit. Not by human might or human wisdom was the gospel to be proclaimed, but by the power of God.
– Ellen Gould White
Ellen Gould White is reflecting on Matthew 4:18-20:
18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
What a staggering quote to accompany an awesome passage. Interestingly, it made me realise that you don’t often hear the words learned and humble at the same time. More importantly than that though, I love that the writer says that these humble, unlearned men were given the power of the Holy Spirit that they might have success in their work. It highlights that it’s not by our own strength or knowledge is the gospel to be proclaimed, but by the power of God working through us. Wow! I have a two thoughts on that today:
Those who can’t, preach.
The somewhat provocative title to this blog post. Some of you are reading this because of it though! I’m not saying that preachers are stupid. Not at all – I’ve preached about three times for no more than ten minutes and it is hard. I have so much respect for preachers! But it reminded me that it’s not about whether you’re a ‘good preacher’ or not. It’s not about whether you are an effective communicator or whether you are the brightest bulb in the box. Hey, let’s face it. Peter wasn’t. But Jesus built the church with him. Wearing a blazer/tshirt combo doesn’t make you a better preacher – although I have to say, I do think it looks pretty cool. Actually, it’s about the Holy Spirit working through us. Not by human might or knowledge, but by the power of God. If you feel like the Holy Spirit is prompting you to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ, do it! It doesn’t have to be on stage at church, it could be in a small group or even a blog! I’m pretty sure the Holy Spirit isn’t only attracted to big events…
(ok, let me clarify. I was being facetious. He definitely isn’t! The Holy Spirit is always with us!)
Not by our strength.
I’m not a preacher, but I am that quirky distant relative you hardly ever see – a songwriter. Like preaching, every worship song must have a message, it must be Biblical and it must help people engage with their Saviour. I’ll be honest, it’s really hard to say something profound and fresh about God that hasn’t already been said before. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Bible is pretty comprehensive! Not to mention, countless composers of hymns and of course, Joel Houston, the best songwriter around today in my opinion. How can I contend with that?! I’m not clever enough to write the sorts of lines you see in epic hymns and I’m not musically gifted enough to write the sorts of melodies that Hillsong are renowned for. Well, luckily for me, it’s not by my strength. That’s just one of the many reasons why we have the Holy Spirit with us. I believe that that phrase – ‘not by human might or human wisdom was the gospel to be proclaimed, but by the power of the Holy Spirit’ – is true today. I need to take some of the pressure of my own abilities and instead release them to God to allow him to use me as he pleases. Similarly, preachers and teachers of the gospel must remember that it’s not by our strength that people will be saved but by the work of the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit, I pray that I will always make myself available to be used to do your bidding. Lord, let your will, not my will be done.