Paul knew he was going against popular intuition. He wrote, “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (vv. 22-24). Please do not miss his self-confession. “I preach Christ crucified” he says. “I preach a message I know will offend both main groups in my audience. It will offend the Jews because they seek for signs, they have a particular view of what the Messiah is supposed to be, so, I know that to preach Him crucified is to put a stumbling block in their path. And the Gentiles seek after wisdom, and the idea that the Jewish Messiah’s death is God’s means of reconciliation is ridiculous in their eyes.”
   How completely unlike the attitude that prevails today! Can you imagine if Paul were to present this preaching strategy in many college and seminary courses today? “I know what my audience will find attractive. So I intend to give them just the opposite.” He would never graduate! Today we are taught to take surveys of our areas, learn what is attractive to our “target audience,” how long the service should be, what tempo the music should have, what colors most attract and have the best emotional appeal, how the pastor should dress (you don’t want to intimidate!) whether you should even have a pulpit (it should be warm and attractive and friendly-though a bar stool is enough for most), and how long the preacher should go in telling his heart-tugging, sentimental stories before closing with affirming the essential goodness of the audience and assuring them of God’s love for them. The Apostle would not have the slightest idea what has possessed us, it would seem. He knew what would automatically attract, and he purposefully, willfully, said, “No, I will not do that.”

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