(10) Am I now trying to persuade people, or God? Am I seeking to please people? If I was trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s slave!
(11) For I’m letting you know, brothers and sisters, that the good news I preached is not what human authorities would call the good news. (12) For I didn’t receive it from another human being, nor was I taught it. I got it by revelation from Jesus Christ. — Galatians 1:10-12
I frequently encounter people who are desperate about their work of evangelism, especially with relatives and close friends. They wonder how they can possibly finally bring these people to see the salvation that God offers and to welcome Jesus into their hearts. They can practically smell the sulfur and feel the heat, and they feel a sense of desperation at their lack of success in bringing people to know Jesus.
Now before I go on, there’s a much larger number who can’t conceive of how to be a witness for Jesus or who are too apathetic to care about their witness. If you’re one of those, I’m not talking to you. You could do with a little desperation.
But for the first group, I want to say that desperation misses the point. Think about Paul in his ministry to the Galatians. He’s gone into their cities and raised up churches quite quickly. They received him well and welcomed the good news. Then he travels on, and in a very short time they’re dropping out. How can they? What on earth is wrong?
Yet when he writes, he realizes that just as he would later write to the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 2:1-5), he wasn’t going to win this argument through clever arguments, because coming to the cross of Jesus isn’t clever. The cross is really quite the opposite. It’s taking a jump into what looks like failure, acknowledging how little and unimportant you really are, and coming out victorious on the other side, because someone else took care of it.
The leap of faith truly does look different from the other side! Nothing you can do is going to make it look good. It’s never going to please people, and God doesn’t need to be persuadedâ€”he already knows what it looks like from both sides.
God is the only one who can put the grace into someone’s heart to allow them to accept what God is offering in the cross. There is a place for arguments. In both 1 Corinthians and Galatians, after Paul talks about the failure of clever arguments, he continues to use the best ones he has. But he acknowledges that it is God, through his Spirit, who will make anything work.
Are you feeling desperation? It’s time for prayer. Maybe you’re depending on your own arguments too much. Be a witness, but don’t put your trust in yourself for your loved ones’ salvation. Put your trust in God.
You can tell when you are truly trusting in Godâ€”when you no longer feel desperate, but just confident, determined, and faithful.