Connected: By the Cross 5/3

1 Corinthians 1:17-25

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Please remember that sermon notes are meant to act as a guide and may not be exactly what was preached.

Paul has just chastised them for not being unified as the Church (vs. 10-13). He has stated that he was sent to preach the gospel, “not with eloquent wisdom, so that the Cross would not be emptied of its effect” (vs. 17).

How many of you wear a miniature replica of an electric chair as jewelry? How about a syringe to symbolize death by injection? A hangman’s noose? Guillotine? The Cross is an instrument of bloody torture and excruciating death that is still used on Christians in other parts of the world. At the time of this letter, the rule of law and enforcement by might were the Roman way; break a law of Rome and you could be nailed to a cross, naked, and lifted up in a public place for the world to know who was in power. It was the same with those in power among the Israelites; break a law of God or a tradition of the Pharisees and you could be stoned or as in the case of Christ, with the help of Rome, crucified on a cross… 

And yet it is worn as a symbol of God’s love and grace for all. The cross gives hope and comfort to those connected by what was accomplished on and through it. And that bloody implement of torture, punishment, and excruciating death is now a symbol of hope, peace, and salvation. He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

The wisdom of Rome, and for most of the world at that time, was “survival of the fittest.” Basically if you were stronger and more powerful then your law –your  way, and if not, then force will make you comply.

How often do we force our children to do the right thing, to submit to our rules? We win many battles with our children by force, but we will win the war when we actually convince them through love, grace, and mercy to do right as part of their own conviction – what motivates them.

Today, worldly wisdom promotes a culture of self, it’s an all-about-me world that we live in. We see it everyday, everyone serving their own wants and needs. So much so, that those that live for God and others (think Great commandment) stand out as peculiar, different… Nothing outside of us can cure the selfishness of our hearts; the heart of man is deceitful and desperately sick (Jeremiah 17:9). The force of Law does not work. The worlds wisdom doesn’t work, and we all, at one time, were dead in our sin for breaking the Law of God. But then there was the message of the cross…

The message of the Cross is the Gospel that Jesus Christ, the sinless lamb of God, was sacrificed for mankind’s sin so that we could be brought back into community and relationship with God: Connected to our power source (John 3:16).

It is the Cross that connects us to God and to one another. It is through the message of the cross that the individual’s motivation can be changed: Change the individual, change the community, and you change the culture. In changing the culture, what the law failed to do through force, will be accomplished. 

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense.  – James 3:17

Where is wisdom found today, where does the world find power and distinction? Spirituality? Is it found in relationship with God and connection with His Church? Do you follow the cultural “wisdom” that bigger is better and more attractive?  Do those who have been “members” longer have more power? Do those who contribute more financially have more influence? Do you value the business-savvy people who have “made it” more than others? Are we living out the foolishness of God’s wisdom that actually look like foolishness to the world?

Worldly wisdom appeals to the senses and the emotions while the wisdom that comes from God reflects who He is.  God is love (1 John 4:8, 1 Corinthians 13). 

Worldly wisdom says “Follow your heart”, godly wisdom tells us in Jeremiah 17:9 that, “the heart is deceitful above all things.” 

Worldly Wisdom tells us that seeing is believing, godly wisdom tells us in John 20:29 that “blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 

Worldly wisdom says love your family and friends and hate your enemies, Godly wisdom, in Matthew 5:43-48, tells us to, “love your enemies and pray for them.” 

Worldly wisdom says that there are many ways to God, godly wisdom, in John 14:6, tells us there is but one way to God: Jesus Christ! In Acts 4:12 the wisdom of God proclaims, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.

The world is looking for salvation right now in the form of a vaccine or cure for this virus. We receive daily updates on what is happening, raising our awareness, but also creating confusion and fear. The world preaches a message of death and confusion and it always has. But God has a plan, in His wisdom. God has given the church the message of the cross, life, and peace in Jesus Christ, Grace to overcome, you hold that message and are an essential part of God’s plan to reach those that are perishing. 

Just to remind you;  that we, like Paul, are sent of God, into the World, not with political or armed might, not in worldly wisdom, not with eloquence of speech, but in spiritual wisdom and strength: Grace. This comes from being connected to God through His cross. In being sent into all the world we are given the authority to baptize and to teach all that Jesus commanded (Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:18-20). 

Digging Deeper

  • Do you know the Message/Word of the Cross?
  • Are you being sent?
  • Are you spreading the message of the Cross?

Further Reading: Isaiah 5:20-24, Matthew 10:38-39, Matthew 28:19-20, John 17:18, John 20:21, Romans 10:8-17, Romans 12:4-5, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Revelation 21:5, James 3:17, Acts 4:12, John 14:6, 1 John 4:7-12

 

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