Roger's Postings

Saturday, February 14, 2009

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 We share the message of Christ crucified
{18} For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. {19} For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." {20} Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? {21} For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. {22} Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, {23} but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, {24} but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. {25} For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. {26} Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. {27} But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. {28} He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, {29} so that no one may boast before him. {30} It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. {31} Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

As I begin ministry my here among you we have here a message from God that is central to what I and all us here need to keep in mind as we continue to be God’s people. And in light of where much of our society and sadly much of the Christian church is today, we have an important role to play here in this community. A very important role. As Christians we are the only ones who are able to give our society what it needs, in order find to find the peace, happiness, security, and eternal life that it so desperately seeks and desires. It is up to us. They will not find this message from any other source other than from God through his people. So the challenge is up to you and me.

Here in this reading we are pointed in the right direction in order to do so. Paul points out that it is the preaching of Christ crucified that is of vital importance for us all. That is to be our boast as Christians. That is to be what is to be proclaimed over and over again. Christ and his death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. God working through weakness and seeming failure and tragedy to make available to all, what we need. God accepting and working through us not because of our goodness and wisdom; our influence and nobility, or any other such thing; but simply because of Christ and his crucifixion on cross. And there it is that we have the basis of what we are to be on about. There we have what is needed for us in the Church, and especially what those in the community around us need to hear. It may not be what they want to hear – but it is what they need to hear.

But the problem is, how are they going hear that message. Who is going to tell them this Good News? It definitely won’t be the community out there. That would be the last thing they want tell you. It doesn’t fit the wisdom of our present age. It is not cool to talk Christianity.

At the same time it will not be the other religions of the world today either. As much as it is being proclaimed by many today that we are all paths to the one God and eternal life; they do not tell us of Jesus Christ and his death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, or of the need for us to place our trust in him alone. No – they also then are not able to help us, and the world around us, with regard to that which is of utmost importance for us: That God himself wants us to know.

And sadly today even from many quarters of the so-called Christian church you will not hear proclaimed loudly and boldly Jesus Christ and his death on the cross. Instead the focus is placed on us, and what we must do;
on us using the wisdom of this world to grow the Church, and the like. The claim is made that we must not proclaim and follow God’s Law, but simply share the Gospel – whatever that is without the Law. And I could go on with how the claim is made that we are so much wiser today and have a better understanding of God’s Word, and the like; but they have become fools because they have neglected the essential message of the cross.

And if you do not think that I am right – listen to the people out in the community. What is the message they have received about what it is to be a Christian? Yes, it is all about being a good, moral person; it is about feeling good and happy and in control of life. Many people out there simply have the understanding that as long as they are reasonably good people they will be OK – they will get to heaven. And yet they have no understanding of Jesus and his death on the cross for the forgiveness of their sins.
And where did they get that thinking from?

No – we here are called to preach Christ crucified. We are called to look at cross so that we see ourselves, and the world around us as it needs to be seen. And that we see Christ and Christianity as it needs to be seen. And it is there alone that we find the wisdom to live our lives every day. And it is only there that we will find the peace, joy and hope that we really need. Without the cross - our lives and our living is nothing. They are flounderings in a sea of disillusionment and searching.

And to see why, look closely at this cross. There we see what needs be seen and understood, as God would have us. And there, yes – first of all, we see our human predicament; our society as it needs to be seen. Because there on the cross the reality of each one us hangs. That is the sum total of what we deserve; the sum total of where we get to if want to ignore God and live life by our own thinking. That is where all human wisdom and striving ends.

As we look at that cross we see hanging there a person being punished in the most horrendous way. And in fact he is receiving the full force of not just human punishment and death, but God’s judgment for all sin; all that we deserve for our failure to live and be what God intended us to be; for failing to heed the importance of God in our lives. Look - we might think that we are not too bad – that we are living pretty reasonable lives – better than most anyway. Well look again - there is the sum total of the very best that we can do. There is where our wisdom leads. And that is what God's righteousness and justice pronounces for you and me - guilty to death. And if we are honest with ourselves, in light of God and his Word – we have to agree.

But look again. Who do we see on that cross? Is that you and me? When it comes to judgment day it should be. But no - there hangs God's own Son, Jesus Christ. Completely innocent - not deserving that in any way. But he is doing it voluntarily so that it doesn't have to be you and me. He is taking the punishment we should have coming to us. And there you have utter foolishness to our human way of thinking. But there is God's wisdom at work. Yes, he loves us so much that he wants to free us from that. He doesn't want us to go to Hell forever. Instead he wants to free us from the chains of sin and guilt that hold us down, and open up for us, and give us free access to God - membership in his family now and forever; peace, joy, security, and oh so much more. And it is there on the cross, and only there, that all of this is made possible. Nowhere, or in no other way, can God's love and forgiveness be ours.

Yes there on the cross we see and are brought face to face with the reality of our lives, and of God's love which frees us from our human predicament and changes our future possibilities. There we soberly see where our human striving leads, but also joyfully see God at work freeing us all. And then along with Jesus' resurrection we see and come to understand something of the power that is at work in our lives.

Now, all who are connected into Christ through baptism and faith in him and what he has done for us through his death and resurrection have a most joyous peace and hope that we could ever hope to have. In Christ and through his crucifixion, we become wise. We become wise because we know that our righteousness, our holiness, and our redemption – that is our salvation – are not something we can or have achieved ourselves. But that it is a gift of God through our Lord Jesus Christ. So our only boast now is in Christ and in the salvation he has won for us. All that we say and do as his people, points in that direction. To him be glory and praise now and always.

That now is the central message of our faith as we go forward as God’s people. It is the core of all that we say and do as pastor and people here at Glandore/Underdale. It is to be the basis of the message that we share with those we come into contact with, in the hope that they too will be brought to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and his death for the forgiveness of our sins, and so be rescued from an eternity in Hell.

So as we go forward together as God's people, let us encourage one another in every aspect of life, to look first and foremost to Jesus Christ and the cross, and then we will know what it is to be wise: Because in Christ we see the power of God, and the wisdom of God. AMEN

Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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