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  • Writer's pictureElpidio Pezzella

We Preach Christ

"For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake."

(2 Corinthians 4:5 NKJV)



This statement by Paul extrapolated from a larger address to the Corinthians though simple is an effective and clear summary of the selfless nature of Christian service, and of the individual believer's commitment to the proclamation of Christ that has nothing to do with personal promotion. This saying opens with the emphasis that this ministry, assignment has been entrusted to us exclusively by divine mercy. To this he adds an awareness of our humanity, speaking of self and others as "earthen vessels" that contain precious treasure. How wonderful to discover how a servant of Paul's caliber speaks without hiding his own human frailty, but uses it to highlight the extraordinary power of the entrusted Gospel. Only those with a humble heart, and for an earthen vessel it should not be otherwise, direct their attention to Christ and forsake all subterfuge (v. 2) by taking care to share God's truth openly and transparently. I am convinced that this applies to believers of all times, and thus to us as well, to anyone who preaches or witnesses to faith in God.


If humility is lacking, one will seek one's own glory, in a presumptuous and specious manner, not sparing the illicit use of deceptive and manipulative techniques, in order to achieve one's own fleshly self-interest. With our modest example of vessels filled with His word instead, we want to strive to share God's message without any artifice. I do not care what circulates on the Net where self-promotion reigns, I dare to shout from my place that it is time to bring back the emphasis on the message and not the messenger. As disciples of the Master we have a clear goal: to be able to reflect Christ in our lives and ministries by placing Him at the center of everything we do. The channels may change, but the water must remain the same, clear and pure as it proceeds from the Lord through the Word, and above all "alive," generating life and not bringing death (John 7:38).


As Cotton Mather (1726) stated, "the great object and intention of the office of the preacher is to restore the throne and dominion of God in souls." Consequently, preaching should be nothing more than the proclamation of good news by a messenger sent by God, according to what Romans 10:14-15 declares. Perhaps we should ask ourselves what is the good news we are proclaiming. The prophet Isaiah comes to us. "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger of good tidings, who proclaims peace, who brings good tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!"" (52:7). The peace and salvation preached are encapsulated in the expression "Your God reigns." Similar invocation left us Jesus in the prayer par excellence, "Thy kingdom come" (Matthew 6:10). The purpose of preaching is to kindle in the heart of the hearer a desire for submission to the authority of God, who rules sovereignly and has made His glory accessible through Jesus' death on the cross. Indeed, the cross is God's power to crucify pride, both of the preacher and those who listen. The goal remains to glorify Christ rather than ourselves.


I know how difficult it is sometimes to stand in the pulpit and share a message. We also have our own load of various problems and afflictions, a family and what it entails; we are subject to various criticisms and discouragement can numb the purest water. Paul also knew affliction, being perplexed, persecuted or cast down (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). I thank God for never leaving me without a message and for those who support me with prayer. Aware of what you must be feeling, I address to you from my heart the words of this Pauline exhortation, "I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word!" (2 Timothy 4:1-2a).


 

Weekly Bible Reading Plan # 09


February 26, Numbers 12-14; Mark 5:21-43

February 27, Numbers 15-16; Mark 6:1-29

February 28, Numbers 17-19; Mark 6:30-56

March 01, Numbers 20-22; Mark 7:1-13

March 02, Numbers 23-25; Mark 7:14-37

March 03, Numbers 26-28; Mark 8

March 04, Numbers 29-31; Mark 9:1-29

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