Sermon by Gus Lohrum
Background on 1 Corinthians
Paul is writing to a Greco-Roman church in the city of Corinth.
Paul is writing to a church he knew and spent time teaching and leading for about a year and half.
He is also writing to a church with problems.
He writes to them as a spiritual father, coach and mentor.
Listen to what he has already expressed in the beginning of his letter about the church to whom he is writing.
Identity: v.2, 9
Paul reaffirms their identity to remind them of what they are to become – “To the church of God, sanctified in Christ and called to be saints.” v.2
He reminds of their identity as saints, God’s people with calling to a particular way to live in this world.
Gifted: v.5, 6, 7, 8
Paul assures them God has provided the spiritual means to fulfill who they are as the people of God and their calling – “you are not lacking in any spiritual gift.” V.7
Since Paul was going to be instructing and guiding this church about a wide range of problems, it is fitting that Paul uses the opening chapters of the letter to take on a question. The question Paul hits is wisdom.
Illustration: Today we are constantly hearing about the developments, advantages, and disadvantages of “artificial intelligence.” Artificial Intelligence is also known as A.I. Computer technology is able to load various computers with the ability to do human task.
Self-driving cars operate by AI. How many are ready to get into a car with no driver? I’m not there yet.
What about robotic vacuum-cleaners for use in the home? If I had a house-pet like a cat or dog, I would still be worried the robot chasing the cat or dog around the house as it cleans.
The debate and discussion on Artificial Intelligence continues; but the apostle Paul is pointing the church to possess a holy intelligence, a sacred wisdom in which to live this life and reveal God, Christ to others.
Here is the passage of scripture were chewing on today.
Read - 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
Interesting, Paul points acknowledges to the believers there were two schools of thought of how people obtain wisdom and why they considered themselves wise. Paul said the Jews seek a sign and the Gentiles or non-Jews of the Greek-Roman culture of that day search for wisdom. V.22 Smart that God inspired Paul to say this because the church was made of Jews and Greeks.
The problem was that a crucified messiah/son of God didn’t seem wise to Jews or Greeks.
Jews believed the messiah to be sent would be preceded by signs of God’s power at work in the heavens, sky and or events on earth. Jewish wisdom also believed the deliverer God sent would overthrow earthly powers. Jesus the messiah without an army didn’t work for them.
Greek thought/mindset stumbled on what kind of god suffers and dies as Jesus did. The Greeks scoffed at idea of a god who could feel pain and take on suffering as much as last year’s football fans scoffing that there was no way a back-up quarterback, named Nick Foles who almost quit playing football altogether could have any chance to come off the bench and lead the Philadelphia Eagles to win the super bowl; but Foles did.
Yet, Paul said, “we preach Christ crucified”, which points to the sacrificial love of God that was at the core of Jesus and caused him to embrace the suffering death for our sakes.
Here is a quote from a book I read a couple months ago that helps me appreciate Paul’s pointing to the message of the cross of Jesus.
Dr. Elton Trueblood writes, “Love is such a necessity to the faith. How strange it is that we often ask one another, especially if from a different denomination than our own, “What do you believe,” but we seldom ask. “what do you love?”
(Trueblood, In the Company of the Committed, p.96)
Is he right? Is the most essential question, what do we love; and how we answer that reveals whether we are growing in having the mind of Christ in us?
Consider what Jesus said in John 13:35 to his core disciple “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, that you love one another.”
Think about when Jesus after he had been resurrected, asked Peter three times if Peter loved Jesus. Each time Peter said yes, Jesus gave the mission Peter was to fulfill.
Image of Golgotha
Can you in your mind, see Paul and his message positioned between two ways of thinking of what brings us godly wisdom and guidance.
Jewish thinking on one hand, the mindset of the Greek on the other and in between the two, but Paul points to the cross. Like the scene of three crosses and Jesus in the middle of two thieves, any mindset and motivation that doesn’t have the sacrificial love of Christ as the core and center will rob us of God’s meaning and purpose.
If we believe Jesus endured the cross for us, then we will live by the mindset that nothing can stand between us and our relationship with Christ. Nothing holds us back or can prevent the love of God from reaching us.
If we believe Jesus went to the cross for the entire world, so every person, every race, every sin can experience the forgiveness and love of God, then we live by a mindset/wisdom that will keep stretching our vision to whom can we share the good news of the love of God. We are stretched about who gets included as members of God’s family and church.
If we believe love compelled Jesus to the cross, we will gain the wisdom to go to any length to fill the gap and be a bridge so that others will come to experience God’s life changing power.
Highlights of Scott Highberger Story
I read an article recently about a man named Scott Highberger.
Young teenage years was doing drugs and selling drugs.
Arrested numerous times.
Attempted suicide more than once.
Finally trusted that God love even him.
Got out of prison, joined a church.
Would ride his bike in the winter to get.
Began ministering to men still in jail,
His church noticed what he was doing, his gift, and supported.
Today he leads thousands through prison ministry.
In his book, Behind the Wire he writes,
“Freedom isn't just about a physical location; it's a spiritual condition…” There's an invisible prison that holds many in its grip, and the only way out of that is through Jesus.”
Scott Highberger, Behind the Wire
Few would have thought he could ever change but the sacrificial love of Jesus is power and it works and it knows no boundaries.
The mindset by which we live daily, the way we see and assess all situations and relationships needs to be viewed through the cross, sacrificial love of Christ. The focus on his cross determines whether we are wise in him and grow in sacred wisdom a holy intelligence and by what and how we love.
Next week as part of thinking more like Jesus, we’ll be talking about repentance. We all need the experience of repentance because sometimes when we peel back the layers of what we say we love, the love is about just our needs and pleasures; not motivated by the love of his cross.