Are You One That God Would Choose?
“God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put the wise men to shame.”—1 CORINTHIANS 1:27.
1. Why have many chosen to become fools in the world’s eyes?
WOULD you dismiss as insignificant what you knew was an important task simply because others deemed it mere folly and a sign of weakness? No one, of course, likes to be labeled a fool or a weakling—not even a child. But suppose the assignment to perform this important task came from a highly intelligent dignitary. Would you not be willing to swallow your pride and accept the assignment? Millions of persons throughout history have done just that. What task have these people accepted, and from whom has the assignment come? The answer is found in Paul’s first letter to Christians in ancient Corinth.
2. What activity is considered foolishness by the world?
2 In warning Christians there not to base their worship simply on what was popular, Paul wrote: “For the speech about the torture stake is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is God’s power. For it is written: ‘I will make the wisdom of the wise men perish, and the intelligence of the intellectual men I will shove aside.’ Where is the wise man? Where the scribe? Where the debater of this system of things? Did not God make the wisdom of the world foolish? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not get to know God, God saw good through the foolishness of what is preached to save those believing.”—1 Corinthians 1:18-21.
3. What message, considered foolishness by the world, does God purpose to have preached worldwide?
3 To the so-called wise and intellectual ones of the world the speech about Christ pouring out his lifeblood on a torture stake is foolishness. They scoff at the idea that by exercising faith in Christ’s sacrifice everlasting life in a righteous new system can be enjoyed. That Christ rose from the dead and is now the powerful King of God’s heavenly Kingdom is pure fantasy as far as they are concerned. Yet Almighty God purposes to have this heartwarming message made known worldwide. So to anyone who would become his servant he gives the assignment to preach this good news of his Kingdom. Since this message amounts to foolishness to the wise and intellectual ones of the world, whom does God use to preach it? Listen to the inspired answer from God’s own Word:
4. (a) Whom does God use to preach his message? (b) What effect does his choosing of such persons have on the wise ones of the world?
4 “For you behold his calling of you, brothers, that not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many of noble birth; but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put the wise men to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put the strong things to shame; and God chose the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon, the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are, in order that no flesh might boast in the sight of God.”—1 Corinthians 1:26-29.
5. What determines whether you are one that Jehovah will choose to use?
5 Are you the type of person that God would choose to do the work he wants done in the earth today? If so, it means that you must be prepared to be viewed as a fool by the world. “The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God,” the Bible says. (1 Corinthians 3:19) So to be a successful servant of Jehovah God you must be willing to proceed in a way that will make you seem foolish from the world’s standpoint. Are there historical examples to show that not only were God’s servants viewed as foolish by people of the world but the wisdom of the world was also foolishness to God?
Examples From the Past
6. How was it that Noah’s activity appeared foolish to the world, yet displayed God’s wisdom?
6 Noah took on a foolish task from man’s viewpoint but not from God’s. Imagine building on dry land a colossal boxlike structure, 1,300,000 cubic feet (36,800 cu m) in volume, for floating on water. A seemingly speculative endeavor, sure to bring ridicule! That Jehovah God would bring an end to the world seemed absurd to the people. As far as they were concerned, Noah was a fool to preach such a message. (2 Peter 2:5) Yet, the fact is that it was their way of life, their way of doing things, that amounted to foolishness to God. They were ruining the earth, making God feel incensed. (Genesis 6:5) So Noah was willing to be viewed as a fool in connection with God’s displaying His wisdom and power.
7. Why did Moses’ course appear foolish, but what did the outcome show?
7 Would you, in order to please God, give up wealth and nobility, accepting instead ill-treatment? Moses did. Although he “was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians,” he willingly forsook that way of life and accepted the stigma that rests on God’s anointed. (Acts 7:22; Hebrews 11:24-26) Surely Moses’ course of action seemed to be foolish to the Egyptian world, but the world’s wisdom was shown up to be foolishness when Egypt’s wise men were humiliated by 10 plagues and the military might of the nation was destroyed by God in the Red Sea. Such examples show that the wisdom of men is, in fact, foolishness to God. It is no match for the wisdom and power of the Almighty.
8. (a) From what level of society did the majority of early Christians come? (b) Yet what effect did their preaching have on the worldly-wise?
8 What about early Christians? A professor of history wrote: “Most of the early Christians were persons of humble origin, coming from the lower levels of the artisan-merchant class of the large cities.” (The Ancient World, by Joseph W. Swain) Christ’s first-century followers were indeed ordinary persons, a fact that their enemies called attention to. (Acts 4:13; John 7:48) Yet the wisdom spoken by Christ’s followers put the worldly-wise to shame. They could not fathom the sacred secret of God concerning Christ and the Kingdom; to them such talk was foolishness. As the Bible says: “This wisdom not one of the rulers of this system of things came to know, for if they had known it they would not have impaled the glorious Lord.”—1 Corinthians 2:7, 8.
God’s Work of Evangelizing
9. (a) Who really was the source of the instructions provided by Jesus? (b) In order to preach the Kingdom message to deserving persons, what did Jesus’ disciples have to do?
9 Jesus Christ displayed God’s wisdom by both the example he set and the instructions he gave on how to do the evangelizing work. As he said: “I do nothing of my own initiative; but just as the Father taught me I speak these things.” (John 8:28) Jesus went right to the people with the Kingdom message. He taught them publicly and in their homes. Consider for a few moments his instructions to his disciples, the 12 and the 70 that he sent out to share in the evangelizing work. You can read these instructions in Matthew 10:1-14 and Luke 10:1-12. Jesus there told his disciples to locate people. “Into whatever city or village you enter, search out who in it is deserving,” he said. Yes, find those who desire to listen. And what were the disciples to tell them? “Preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near,’” Jesus instructed.—Matthew 10:7.
10. (a) What guidance did Jesus give on how to approach a householder? (b) What were his disciples to do if no interest was shown? (c) What can be said about the wisdom of Christ’s instructions?
10 Jesus even provided guidance on how to approach a householder. He said: “Wherever you enter into a house say first, ‘May this house have peace.’ And if a friend of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if there is not, it will turn back to you.” (Luke 10:5, 6) They were to stay with the people who responded to the Kingdom message that they were preaching. But if the householder was not interested, then they were to move on. Really, what simple, uncomplicated instructions, yet specific enough to show evangelizers down to this present day what to say and how to say it! Is this not what you would expect of God’s wisdom?
11. (a) What did Jesus show should be the theme of his disciples’ message? (b) In order for our Kingdom preaching to be effective, what do we need to do? (c) How can you use scriptures to show that the Kingdom will solve the problems listed in this paragraph?
11 As noted earlier, the kernel of the message of those doing the evangelizing work is the Kingdom. “Go on telling them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you,’” Jesus instructed. (Luke 10:9) You should have this theme in mind, for your responsibility as an evangelizer is to help your listeners understand how the Kingdom really can be good news for them. So you should try to tailor-make, or personalize, the Kingdom message to fit their needs. Depending on your listeners’ needs or interests, why not emphasize what the Kingdom will do that will be most appealing to them? For example, you may show them how the Kingdom will carry out God’s purpose to make this earth a Paradise in which people will live forever, using such scriptures as Isaiah 45:18 and Psalm 37:29. Then, by using the scriptures provided, you might show them how the Kingdom will solve the problems listed below.
Housing: Isaiah 65:21-23.
Pollution: Revelation 11:18.
12. (a) How can an evangelizer determine a person’s needs? (b) What is the key to being an effective evangelizer?
12 How can you determine the listeners’ needs? First, be a good listener, willing to hear what they have to say. Ask questions and attentively listen to their replies, not being defensive if the responses are not what you expect. One Witness, active in the evangelizing work for more than 25 years, noted: “I try to involve the householder immediately in the conversation. In this way I get to know what interests him, rather than just going on with what I came to say.” As another experienced evangelizer noted: “A recited sermon might reach just their ears or blow away on the wind.” Actually, the key to being an effective evangelizer is being genuinely interested in people, even as Jesus was. (Matthew 9:36-38) Let the people see that you are interested in them as persons, and that you really believe the good news you are bringing to them. As one Witness said: “They will draw one conclusion if you talk mechanically—no conviction.”
A Vital Method of Evangelizing
13. How does the Bible show that early Christians obeyed Christ’s directions about preaching?
13 As we have seen, Jesus Christ encouraged his followers to take the Kingdom message right to the homes of the people. Following his directions, the apostles also demonstrated God’s wisdom by using this vital method of evangelizing. The Bible record says: “Every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus.” (Acts 5:42) Later the apostle Paul reviewed his evangelizing work with fellow Christians, saying: “I did not hold back from telling you any of the things that were profitable nor from teaching you publicly and from house to house. But I thoroughly bore witness both to Jews and to Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.”—Acts 20:20, 21.
14. What shows the effectiveness of the house-to-house method of evangelizing?
14 Although God’s servants commonly have been ridiculed and viewed as fools for using this apostolic method of Kingdom preaching, its tremendous success shows that it has God’s approval. For example, British sociologist Bryan Wilson analyzed the growth of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Japan and reported: “The majority [58.3 percent] of those who have become Witnesses declare that they first had their interest awakened by receiving a house-call from a publisher.” Also, years ago Catholic priest John A. O’Brien told some 200 priests at St. Joseph’s Seminary in New York: “The secret of the phenomenal success of St. Paul was his tireless use of the house-to-house method of recruiting converts. It is ironic that this apostolic method is now used by non-Catholic sects, especially Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
Why Schedule Evangelizing
15. Why is it important to schedule time for our house-to-house preaching activity?
15 Is it not true that a schedule is vital if important matters are to be cared for? You probably have a scheduled time for eating and sleeping, as well as for your schooling or work. If you are going to get things done, a schedule is important. The same can be said regarding our house-to-house preaching. Since Satan the Devil is fighting to keep the good news of God’s Kingdom from reaching the people, we need to have a schedule if we are to have a regular share in Kingdom preaching. Otherwise, it may well be that ‘we just cannot find time’ to do this work. (1 Corinthians 9:16) It is Satan’s aim to see that this occurs.
16. What examples show the value of having a schedule for our preaching activity?
16 Thus a medical doctor, a Witness for over 25 years, says that he finds a schedule for evangelizing necessary. The owner of a large cattle ranch in the United States says: “Around 1944 I realized that the only way I would get in service was to schedule a certain day for it.” He adds: “To this day I still take off a day during the week for service.” A Christian elder, who also is a lawyer, finds that having a definite schedule for witnessing enables him to average 15 hours a month in the preaching activity. If he has any legal business on Saturday he schedules it for the afternoon, after his morning field service.—Compare Colossians 4:5.
Represent God in a Dignified Way
17. While in the evangelizing work, what care should we exercise as to dress?
17 Although the world may consider us fools because of the life-giving message we bear, we should exercise care that our appearance does not in any way detract from that vital message. Extremes in dress, either too fashionable or too unkempt, can do that. In more affluent territory we may need to be extra conscious of appearance and decorum. Does this mean that it is necessary to have an expensive wardrobe? No. One successful evangelizer, who has traveled extensively with her husband, carefully observes how people in the territory dress. Then she chooses a moderate style reflecting local practice. Our present wardrobe, no matter how humble, will suffice if our clothing is clean, pressed and orderly. If you are wearing a jacket, have missing buttons been replaced? If you are wearing a tie, have all spots been removed? If you are wearing business-type shoes, have they been polished? Remember, your neat, dignified appearance will command respect for your message.—Titus 2:10.
18. (a) Illustrate the value of dressing in a way that reflects good local practice. (b) Why is overdressing to be avoided?
18 Because one Witness gave more attention to her appearance she reports that a lady who previously denied her even a conversation invited her into the home. After an enjoyable Bible discussion, the householder asked, “By the way, what church do you represent?” The answer, “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” surprised the householder. She had never allowed Jehovah’s Witnesses into her house before. When the Witness asked why she had let her in, the householder replied that it was because the Witness looked “so well put together.” The woman felt compelled to listen to what she had to say. A regular Bible study resulted. On the other hand, in more humble neighborhoods, overdressing may give the impression that you think ‘I am better than you are.’ So no matter what territory we work, or to whom we preach, our dress and decorum should be such that it attracts people to the Kingdom message rather than turning them away.—1 Corinthians 9:19-23.
19. (a) What is the key to being a person whom God chooses? (b) What example did Christ set in this regard? (c) By being willing to let the world look on you as foolish, for what privileges do you put yourself in line?
19 Really, it is up to you to answer the question: Am I one whom God would choose? His choice is not based on intellectual ability or worldly position. The key, rather, is willingness to do God’s work in his way, even when by so doing you are considered foolish or weak by the world. Jesus Christ set the example. He was willing to be considered a fool by his contemporaries in order to become to those whom he discipled “wisdom from God.” (1 Corinthians 1:30) If you are willing to proclaim the Kingdom message, considered foolishness by the world, you are putting yourself in line to be used by Jehovah God as one of his Witnesses and to enjoy the blessed gift of everlasting life in his righteous new system.
Can You Answer These Questions—
□ What speech is foolishness to the world?
□ How did Noah and Moses show that what the world may consider foolish actually reflects God’s wisdom?
□ What instructions did Jesus give his followers for carrying on the evangelizing work?
□ What is a vital method of carrying on the evangelizing work, and what shows that it is successful?
□ Why is it important to schedule our evangelizing activity?
□ How should we dress while participating in the evangelizing activity?
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Before sending his disciples into the evangelizing activity, Jesus taught them how to do the work
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Preaching from house to house is a Scripturally approved method of evangelizing