As recorded in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, the apostle Paul said this about his visit to a group of believers in Corinth: “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
That’s a bit dense, but it seems the essence of what Paul was saying is something like this: “Because I wanted you to encounter God the Father rather than a human ego known as “Paul,” I chose to conduct myself among you in meekness and simplicity, rather than with severity and grandiosity.” It seems that many times, Paul took pains to be humble and meek. 2 Corinthians 10:10, to give another example, shows that many people found Paul to be less “impressive” in person than in writing. He intended it that way.
Somehow, Paul makes a connection between the exclusive “knowing” of Christ crucified and a conduct of meekness, sincerity, and simplicity. What does that mean? Here is a suggestion: “knowing Christ crucified” = recognizing Christ AS one’s life(!) and therefore walking in humility and sacrificial love. Scripture says clearly: all men (all of Adam) died in Christ, and Christ is their true life and identity. The recognition of Christ AS one’s life is a natural product of knowing the truth that in Christ ALL were crucified and risen anew. It’s not a matter of changing or doing, it’s a matter of seeing and integrating. Consider the following verses:
- Colossians 3:3-4: “For you (self/ego) have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When (literally: “whenever”) Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”
- 2 Corinthians 5:14: “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died…”
- Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I (Paul/ego) who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
- Romans 6:6,11: “We know that our old self (old man) was crucified with him…” “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
- Colossians 3:1: “If (since) then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above…”
The knowing of Christ crucified caused Paul’s meekness because “knowing” has nothing to do with a mental agreement of fact, but everything to do with integration with revealed truth, which then naturally leads to the expression of that truth outwardly. If that truth is that “Paul” the ego has died and Christ lives in him, then to know/integrate with that truth will mean the suppression of that (in this case brash) ego and the manifestation of the Life of Christ – a Life of love and truth and grace. This is especially important when teaching others. You don’t want them seeing YOU or receiving from YOU the ego; you want them seeing and receiving Christ the Life! I’m not saying we are all identical robots. We are all unique and amazing expressions and functions of the body of Christ on earth, and for that very reason, we must be sure we are not presenting the dead ego/self, but Christ the Life!
So, can one really “know” a spiritual truth while ignorantly living in a contrary manner? Does one truly “know” Christ crucified if one still sees the ego/self/flesh as one’s life, and relates to others as that self/ego? I think the answer to those questions is “no.” That answer concerns me, it inspires me to go deeper. Again, if Paul himself – the one who was able to truthfully claim to be a flawless Jew and later a gifted, revelation-endowed, miracle-working, fanatical evangelist of Jesus – if such a man took pains to ensure the ego/self known as “Paul” wasn’t seen, but Christ the Life was seen in him, how much more should you and I do the same? Let’s give this some serious thought, brothers and sisters. Bless you!