Make it Plain
You’ll remember, friends, that when I first came to you to let you in on God’s sheer genius, I didn’t try to impress you with polished speeches and the latest philosophy. I deliberately kept it plain and simple: first Jesus and who he is; then Jesus and what he did—Jesus crucified. – 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 (MSG)
Verily, superfluously erudite oratory potentiates obfuscation of the crux of one’s apologia, rendering the endeavor inefficacious!
OK. Enough thesaurus nonsense.
When I first began preaching, I’d shoehorn theological terms and Greek words into nearly every sermon, attempting to impress people into faithfulness. Met with silence and blank stares, I wondered why my messages didn’t land. The answer was simple, and the answer was: simple.
How can folks understand the message if they can’t, well, understand the message? This isn’t about being anti-intellectual or insulting anyone’s intelligence. There’s a place for jargon and complex concepts. And some folks are persuaded by that approach when spoken by those more skilled than me!
Paul suggests another way: keep it plain and simple. Tell about Jesus, and show about Jesus. Demonstrate the Spirit’s power. Point to God as the true source of wisdom, inspiring faith through that and not impressive human language. In fact, skip the words altogether! Teach about Jesus, demonstrate the Spirit’s power, uplift God’s wisdom through a life of discipleship filled with liberating love, generosity, service, forgiveness, and justice-seeking. There’s wisdom in our imperfect and unpolished attempts to share the good news of such a complex mystery. Make it plain. Keep it simple.
In the spirit of simplicity, seminary professor Rev. Dr. Valerie Dixon taught this as the only prayer we need: “Dear God: We love you, we thank you, we need you. Amen.”
Chris Mereschuk is an Unsettled Pastor in the Southern New England Conference with a call to transitional ministry.