When we get together as Christians, it can feel very frustrating at times that nothing seems to be happening. It’s like those upcoming pauses in a conversation where you are so desperate to fill the gaps that you find yourself talking at the same time as someone else, and have to do that embarrassing: ‘No, sorry, you first…. Er, go on, really, oh okay, well what I was saying was…’. This happens to me a lot.
I read recently that some Christians want to preach, but do not have a sound enough knowledge of the Word of God to give a message. You do have to have something to say. It is not enough to stand up with a Bible, read out a scripture, and say ‘Let’s just read that again’, and then look round at everyone as if to say: ‘Isn’t something supposed to happen at this point?’
Paul speaks in Corinthians about how he came to them in power, not with mere words. Word, words, words. We have far too many of them in our culture and they are two a penny. I have started subscribing to the OED Word a Day, and it is a daily reminder to me of how many obscure words we have in our magpie word-hoard of a language.
We do not need to know many words to know that we are saved. It is a simple message that the unlettered and the unloved alike can understand. There is a motive force present in the gospel that offers rescue and forgiveness that is as strong as a tidal undercurrent, knocking you off your feet. There have been many times where I have listened to someone speaking in a church gathering or meeting, even for a few moments, and felt the suck of the gospel, the draw. Those of a Calvinist tendency speak of ‘irresistible grace’. They do not believe it is possible to really see what Jesus did, and to resist it.
The power of God is in the cross. At Fald-y-Brenin in Pembrokeshire, South Wales, they put up a large but simple wooden cross. Many people have been brought to their knees just as they encounter it in the landscape. Some of us think we have outgrown the cross. Jesus is risen, we say. Yes, but we haven’t yet! We still need the flesh mortified. We still need our pride dealt with. Others can see us entangled in the weeds of years and years of selfishness and sin, of self-indulgence, of pride, idolatry, sexual immorality, violent thoughts and jealousy. But we can’t, and when we all get together to encounter God we wonder why there is no power!
There is power in the name of Jesus, and there is life in His name. Reverently step into His presence now, and look into His eyes. Intimacy with Him brings power, and that power is not for our glory, but it is for others to meet Him too.