Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel… to the only wise God be glory… through Jesus Christ.
My gospel! Does that smack of an inflated ego? Could a cultist borrow the line and wreak havoc on the biblically illiterate or blindly star-struck? Or does it suggest that you and I must have a gospel so personal, so convincing, so ascribing of glory to the only wise God, that with Paul we cry out, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel”?
My gospel, pledges Paul, will strengthen you. It is a term meaning to establish, “to turn resolutely in a certain direction.” The scorching Light that struck down the former Saul of Tarsus on his way to Damascus made an ash heap of his life, which was built on the prestige and passion of his nature and nurture. Intercepted by grace, yet starkly dumbfounded and disoriented at first, he lived the experience of being launched “resolutely in a certain direction.” Finding himself radically converted to Christ, he was commanded by Him to take God’s message of “good news” to the Gentiles. There was no Speakers Bureau to suggest a catchy set speech titled “From Persecutor to Preacher.” To make his gospel stick, Paul rocked the infant church with dissent, weaning her from the pabulum of cultural conditioning and forcing the meat of Christ’s eternal truth into her. (Part 1 of 2)
Comment: The apostle clearly didn’t bite his tongue, but insisted that the mere mouthing of religious niceties can’t pack the punch of effective Christian witnessing. Had he possibly mulled over the OT passage that mentions a worm? “Fear not, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel…Behold, I will make of you a threshing sledge, new, sharp, and having teeth…” (Isaiah 41:14-15). An English idiom declares that you can “worm your way into somebody’s heart.” Does that suddenly sound a bit creepy to you, too? “Threshing,” on the other hand, implies harvesting season where separation and revelation take place. Only if useless straw is separated from the grain, does the valuable part of the crop come into view. Since God’s glory is at stake, we dare not confuse “threshing” with “thrashing.” A sharp tongue accomplishes the latter. An instructed tongue speaks the language of Pentecost, ancient Israel’s harvest festival.