1 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:1-6 NIV)
There was a time, not long ago, when it was difficult to know the truth because it was difficult to know anything. Facts were difficult to obtain and almost as difficult to distribute. We love watching detective mysteries. As we watch television shows from the 70s, I often think about how the plot would have changed with the availability of DNA evidence and the cellphone. In most cases, there would be no plot as those two things would eliminate all the tension that makes the shows entertaining.
Things are different now and an abundance of facts makes it even more difficult to know the truth. With all our technology, we can easily capture more data than anyone ever thought possible. Then, by selecting which data to use to create our story we can create multiple versions of the truth depending on what story we want to tell. It has become all too easy to deceive and be deceived.
Paul’s ministry is to communicate the truth of the gospel to everyone he can. He does not have access to technology, but there are still ways to change the presentation to make the message more desirable to his listeners. I think Paul’s method should be ours. It is easy to be tempted to modify our presentation of the gospel to make it more palatable to those we want to reach. Unfortunately, everything we add to the direct presentation of the simple truth makes it more difficult to see the truth. The best presentation I can make, if it draws attention to me, will not be able to break through the blindness that Satan inflicts on unbelievers. Only when others see the light of Jesus in us will there be a chance of breaking through the blindness.
We have recently completed a class looking at different views of how God created. The book the class was based on was motivated by a son who was questioning God’s existence because of what he was being taught in college about evolution. The book presents interviews with Christian scientists who have different views of how God created. What I could not get away from was the perception that the more a scientist thought she understood about how the world came to be, the less necessary God became. None of these scientists were attempting to prove that God was not necessary and did not exist. However, it seemed to me that all their efforts added to the veil that prevents unbelievers from seeing the unexplainable and amazing glory of God.
I think Paul’s example challenges us to get simpler rather than smarter. We need to experience more of the light of God’s glory in Jesus and let that shine out of us. We need to take off anything that shades or hides the light of Christ shining out of us. Ask any designer, making a thing simple is ridiculously hard. This is our challenge. We must do everything we can to avoid adding to the amazing simplicity of the gospel and diminishing its brilliance.