“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” – Romans 10:17
One of the greatest joys of being a pastor was (and continues to be) coaching and mentoring young pastors-in-training. I’ve had the privilege of mentoring a good number of seminary students who were cutting their teeth into local church ministry. And in the process of our mentoring relationship – just as Jesus did it with His disciples by sending them out two-by-two – there came a point when I asked for him to preach their first sermon to the congregation. Inevitably, in the week before that Sunday, in a moment of existential panicking whether the sermon was good enough, I would have the same conversation that was given to me when I was a young seminarian: “It’s not about you.”
In the gospel of Mark, in chapter 4, Jesus shares a parable about the mystery of a growing seed. He shares that a farmer would cast his seed in the fields, then go to sleep and rise, and repeat that for some weeks. And then, somehow the seed sprouts and grows, and ultimately will produce a vast harvest, BUT the farmer doesn’t know how it grows! It’s a wonderful mystery, as Jesus puts it. Fascinatingly, Jesus likens this mystery of a growing seed to the Kingdom of God. Though the man, the farmer, the sower of the seed had his part in casting the seed into the soil, the power of that seed to grow into a great harvest was inherent to the SEED - the kingdom of God! The power of the kingdom of God, the Word of God, the Gospel is inherent in itself.
“It’s not about you,” I would say to my nervous young seminarian. The power of the Word of God is inherent in the Word of God. What the LORD is asking you is to faithfully dispense the truth that is revealed in God’s Word. So, don’t be anxious about if your words will be powerful enough, or anointed enough. Pray up and fill up by the Holy Spirit, and speak with confidence of the truth and power of God’s message to the lost, because that’s where the power lies—inherent in the Word when it is faithfully administered! If we, as preachers, were espousing our own thoughts and philosophies, then it would be natural to feel insecure and anxious. But with the Word of God, we need not be anxious about its power.
Prior to Paul’s words in Romans 10:17, he lays out an argument filled with rhetorical questions for the readers, laced with much logic:
- How will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? (v. 14)
- How will they believe in Him of whom they have never heard? (v. 14)
- How will they hear without someone preaching? (v. 14)
- How will they preach unless they are sent? (v. 15)
- Lord, who will believe what they have heard from us? (V. 16)
Paul answers in advance to those who may be asking this: It’s not about you. Faith comes from hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ. It’s inherent in the Word of Christ! Just be obedient to go and preach Christ! God has called each believer to trust Him to do the hard part of bringing sinners to repentance. He will equip you for the work He’s called you to do! Just be sure to remain obedient, without fear, without limitation! And see what God can do!
Father, we thank You for Your Word that has the power to save and deliver the lost. We thank You that You have called us to serve the Kingdom of God in sharing the news of the Gospel to those around us. Grant us the courage we need to see beyond our limitation, but to wholly trust in Your promise to go before us and bless our work for Christ. We need Your grace and mercy, when we fail to remember that it’s not about us, but that it’s about faithfully obeying Your call to go and make disciples, teaching them to obey all that Jesus has commanded us. You alone can save! Hallelujah! In Jesus Name, Amen.
Ministry Director, CU Gloria Law at Harvard Law School
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