For I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: for Jew first, and then Greek. (Romans 1:16)
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with the wisdom of human eloquence, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning. 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. (1 Corinthians 1:17-18)
When I came to you, brothers, proclaiming the mystery of God, I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive (words of) wisdom, but with a demonstration of spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts. For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11)
Have you ever thought about how truly amazing it is that the Gospel message of salvation has spread from twelve apostles to encompass the whole world! We are not talking about God using twelve Bible scholars, theologians, and Jewish leaders. Instead, he used a rag tag group that included, among others, fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot, and a doubter.
Let’s take a quick historical look at how the Gospel was spread in the early church. It all started with Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fell upon the apostles gathered in the upper room, enabling them to proclaim the wonders of God in many languages and tongues. Three thousand people heard the Gospel that day and became believers.
Shortly after that, Peter and John healed a beggar who could not walk, providing an opportunity to add another two thousand to their number. After this, the apostles began to meet regularly in the Temple area, where many miracles were performed, and many more heard the Gospel preached to them for the first time.
With the martyrdom of St. Stephen, a persecution broke out against the believers, and many believers were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. They continued to preach the Gospel wherever they went. Because of this dispersion, the word of God spread to Tarsus, Caesarea, and Antioch.
Finally, with the missionary journeys of Paul and Barnabas, the word of God reached as far as Ephesus, Corinth, Rome, and even Spain. When Paul had opportunities to share the Gospel in a synagogue, he always told the story of salvation, but he didn’t always tell it in exactly the same way. In the synagogue at Antioch, the Gospel message (Acts 13:16-41) initially focuses on David. Paul presents Jesus as the “Son of David” fulfilling God’s promises to Israel’s beloved king. In other tellings, the emphasis is on Moses, the lawgiver or on Abraham, the man of faith.
In all these tellings to Jewish hearers, we see God preparing his people for the Messiah. But when Paul preached to Gentiles or mixed audiences, he tended to stress the way the chosen people rejected Jesus, opening the way for God to fulfill his plan to bring salvation to the whole world. In place of clever arguments, Paul demonstrated the power of the Gospel (Romans 1:16) to change and transform lives. He firmly believed that the Gospel is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” That is why he wrote: “My message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5).
Two thousand years later, the word of God continues to grow and spread as Christians across the globe proclaim the Gospel message with clarity and bear witness to the power and love of God in their lives. In many cases, this message is proclaimed by ordinary Catholic men like you and I. That is why God wants to use you to spreads his Gospel and his love to others —he really does! He promises that when his words are proclaimed they will never return to him void or empty, but will accomplish the purposes for which he sends it out (Isaiah 55:10-11).
It is so easy as Catholic men to feel inadequate when it comes to sharing the Gospel message with other men. However, God wants us to have the same confidence in him that Paul had. We don’t need eloquence. All we have to do is stay close to him in prayer and open our mouths when the opportunities arrive. He’ll take care of the rest. He’ll give us the words to say, just as he did for Paul. It’s so simple, but so powerful!
You can be sure that every opportunity you take to share the Gospel message and your faith in Jesus Christ with others, they will be blessed in some way. It will not be through your “persuasive words of wisdom” but through “the power of the Gospel.” You may or may not see a person come to instant conversion. You may simply be watering a seed that someone else has planted. Or you may be planting a brand new seed yourself. Whatever the result, know that God sees every good thing you do, and he rewards it. Remember: He is even more eager than you to see people embrace the Gospel and come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ. He will bless your efforts, and your own faith will grow, as you see God’s transforming work in the lives of others!
“Thank you, Lord, that your word never returns to you void! Give me the courage to proclaim your Gospel and tell of your love to those I meet. Teach me how to offer the hope of the Gospel message to those who need the light of Christ in their lives.”
(Maurice Blumberg was the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), and is currently a Trustee. He is also the Director of Partner Relations for Partners in Evangelism, (http://www2.wau.org/partners/), a Ministry to the Military and Prisoners for The Word Among Us. Maurice can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
[Many thanks to The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org/) for allowing me to adapt some material from daily meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.]
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
1. Take a few minutes to read and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do they tell you about the power of the Gospel and God’s promises?
2. Why do you believe that God was able to use a “rag tag group that included fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot, and a doubter” to spread the Gospel in such a powerful way?
3. Do you believe that God wants to use ordinary Catholic men like you and I to bring the saving message of the Gospel to others? Why or why not?
4. Do you believe that this will occur, as the article states, not through your “persuasive words of wisdom” but through “the power of the Gospel”? Why or why not?
5. If you are in a men’s group, take some time at the end of your meeting to pray for one another that each of you would have the courage to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with other men. Use the prayer at the end of the article as the starting point.