"My message and my preaching were not with wise and pesuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." 1 Corinthians 2:4,5
The apostle Paul knew the key to seeing the power of God move in him and through him. He understood that if he depended on himself or had any inclination to look good before men, God would not manifest His power through him. In the spirit of true humility, the apostle lived a life that depended on God to glorify God. Paul followed Christ's example of becoming nothing so that God would be glorified (Phil. 2:6-11).
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8,9
The manifestation of God's power in the believer's life is by grace so that no man can boast. As long as we think it is because of our own righteousness or our own abilities that God will move in power, we will hinder God's desire to manifest His power for His glory.
"But (the Lord) said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
The key to demonstrating Christ's power in our lives is weakness - complete dependency on God to glorify Him! Pride depends on self to look good before man. Humility depends on God so that He is glorified.
God desires that we simplify to glorify - that we strip ourselves of all that depends on self and everything that we could boast in for our own glory instead of depending completely on God to glorify Him.
"The Lord said to Gideon, 'You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, announce now to the people, 'Anyone who tembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.'" Judges 7:2,3
God simplified to glorify - He caused Gideon to strip down his army of 32000 men to 300 men to fight against Israel's enemies -
"The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore." (Judges 7:12)!
God demonstrated His power by using man's weakness to glorify Himself. Israel became weak so that she could become strong. She humbled herself by depending completely on God so that He would be glorified through her!
Having understood God's will for us to depend completely on Him so that He will be glorified, I believe we, the Church, need to ask ourselves some honest questions. For example,
- Is it more important to us that we have an attractive, polished event on a Sunday or that people encounter the presence and power of God? Clearly we can have both but what is most important to us?
- If we stripped away the cool venue, the cool music and the fun sermon, what would be left? Could it be we have replaced the fire of God for His sake with a cool meeting for our sake?
- Is what we pray and how we pray, when praying for one another, more important than seeing God touch the other person's life?
- Is how we worship on a Sunday more important than making room to encounter God?
- Is how we preach more important than making sure we come with a demonstration of God's wisdom and power? Are we more concerned about being acceptable than accurate; being popular than powerful?
- Do we compromise the truth in the name of love for our sake or do we speak the truth in love for God's sake?
I believe it is time for the Church to simplify to glorify. It is time to take a serious look at how much we are doing in our own strength and for our own glory. It is time to strip away everything that depends on self and that is done for our own glory. It is time to depend fully on God so that He will be glorified. It is time for people to experience the presence and power of God in our meetings so they "will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, 'God is really among you!'" (1 Corinthians 14:25).
Church, let us simplify to glorify!