“People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.” I have those words written in a small notebook, attributed to Samuel Johnson. Whoever said it, our life experience bears it out. Sometimes we simply need to be told what we already know. We don’t need to discover a new truth. We just need to be deeply convinced of the truths we already cherish. So it was with Paul when he came to Corinth
By the time Corinth came up on the itinerary, Paul’s resume was thick. He had an impressive testimony, complete with blinding light accompanied by the voice of Jesus and temporary blindness. That’s hard to beat.
As far as his ministry was concerned he was seasoned and tested. In Paphos Paul had cast out a demon. In Iconium he had worked miraculous signs and wonders. In Lystra Paul had healed a lame man and in that same city Paul had been beaten with rocks, dragged outside the city and left for dead.
His mind was sharp and his theological arguments tightly honed. In Jerusalem Paul had gone head to head with Jewish disciples and insisted on the inclusion of Gentiles in the Christian community. In Athens he had stood boldly in the Areopagus and presented Jesus to would-be philosophers, scoffers and skeptics and intellectual snobs. Many dismissed him, but some of them had come to faith in Christ.
Well traveled, Paul arrived in Corinth with scars on his flesh and weariness in his bones. He came with tools in his pack and a burden on his heart. Reasoning in the synagogue was nothing new to him. Being rejected there was also nothing new. And making converts of Gentiles, again he had done that too.
He had seen it all before. But there was a moment when he needed to be reminded. He needed to be told what he already knew. And so God granted a vision to Paul, and Jesus spoke this message:
“Don’t be afraid. Keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you . . .”
Sometimes we need to be told what we already know. Maybe we’ve heard it a thousand times before. We need to hear it again. We need to be reminded.
There are time when our courage wanes. God shrinks as our fears and problems grow. Faith withers as our doubts put down deep roots. At such times we need to be told again. We need reminding. God is present. God can be trusted. God is actively involved in the place where you are and the life you’re living right now.
Even Paul, the mighty missionary apostle, needed such reminding. He needed to be told what he already knew. He needed fresh courage to keep on going. He needed a fresh awareness of the presence of Jesus. Perhaps you need the same thing today.
These words are offered to you as nothing more than a reminder. Bear with me while I tell you what you already know. You are not alone. Take heart and don’t be afraid. Jesus stands with you. Jesus left his followers with his presence and his power. Both are yours today.
By the work of your Spirit, O God, remind us today of what we know to be true: that you are with us; that you are at work in our lives and in the world around us. Give us courage to be your people, people sent into the world as a living reminder to others. Use us today to speak what others need to hear – the good news of your presence and love, through Christ our Lord. Amen.