What is the primary reason that you do not talk about Jesus with people – specifically non Christians? Most would answer some variety of fear: Fear of rejection, fear of not knowing what to say, fear of the topic, etc. Are you afraid that people will not believe if you tell them about Jesus? We try to pump ourselves up in a variety of ways when we consider evangelism or just making Jesus known, but the reality is that Jesus and the Gospel, to those who are not chosen, is foolishness.
“For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
– 1 Cor 1.22-24
To the Jews, who had the history of the Old Testament Law, Jesus was (and is) a stumbling block. They understood in part that they were looking for a Savior, but when He came they did not recognize Him because they did not exactly for whom they were looking. Jesus is a stumbling block for them to come to salvation, as they still are waiting for a savior. The Gentiles, everybody else, hear the story of redemption and consider it – naturally – foolishness. So, in short, everyone who is either a Jew or not a Jew will hear the story of Jesus and in and of themselves will hear it as foolishness. They will reject it.
Does that give you hope?
It gives me hope. Because the conclusion of the verse is that to all who are called, Jews or everyone else, Christ is the “power of God and the wisdom of God”.
It can sound a bit cliche these days to remind ourselves that when we talk about Jesus and people mock us or do not want to hear about it, that they are rejecting Jesus and not us. It is true, and it should give us comfort to remember that Jesus was hated and He promises that those who hate Him will (and should) hate us.
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”
– John 15.18-20
Therefore, we should begin to develop thicker skin. Jesus promises that the world will hate His servants, and people who look like Jesus. If no one is hating you, then you might check yourself to see if you are standing for truth and telling people about Jesus. Now, I am not saying that we should be obnoxious, and make ourselves hate-able, rather I am saying that the Gospel is so offensive to people, that when we live how Jesus lived, when we speak how Jesus spoke, and when we share the good news of the Gospel, it is offensive in and of itself. No one wants to hear that they are wicked and that they deserve to go to Hell for their sins. But that is what the Bible says, and if we do not know our current state apart from Jesus, then we do not know from what we need saving.
But what I find particularly glorious about this passage in 1 Corinthians is that the contrast is painted between wisdom and folly. People can understand and articulate the outlines of the Gospel without knowing it as wisdom. It makes logical sense, and some can portray it as mythology or as a “great story”, but only those who have been chosen find it as wisdom and power. Clearly, by this teaching, we see that not everyone is called. It is a supernatural ability to love and believe the Gospel as truth, wisdom and power.
So why does this give me hope in evangelism? Simply this: I do not have to get someone from one camp to the other. I do not have to take the one who finds Jesus as a stumbling block or foolishness and convince him that Jesus crucified is the power and wisdom of God. Now, there are some who will not hear and believe immediately, and there are some who will know the truth of the Gospel and believe year and decades later. This does not mean that they went from the unchosen camp to the chosen camp, it means that God had a plan and timing for their conversion.
In short, it is our responsibility to share, and it is God’s responsibility to call, save, and bring about growth.
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.”
– 1 Cor 3.6-7
We know that God has chosen people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. There are people who will believe in every corner of the Earth. And until there are believers in every people group, Jesus will not return to bring about the end of the age. But, He has already set these people aside. It is only our job to go out there and tell them! That is why Jesus said,
And He was saying to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
– Luke 10.2
The Spirit has already prepared hearts to hear the Truth! The harvest is plentiful. The fields are white. When we get out and start talking about Jesus, there will be many who say it is foolishness and stumble over Jesus, but there will be those who are ready to hear it and who hear the wisdom and glory in the Gospel. So get out there and start talking about Jesus. He promised us that people will hate us for talking about Him and acting like Him, so let it roll off your back when people turn down your invitation to believe. And as you continue sharing, you will find that there are some out there who are waiting to hear and who are ready to believe. It’s our job, people. When we get to Heaven, let’s not stand before the judge having not done the primary thing that He told us to do.