Yesterday, I preached 1Corinthians 1.18-31…three times. I’ve noticed every service I preach, the sermon sounds different. 1st service (1st period) is where I make all my mistakes. 2nd service, like 2nd period gets a “great education”. And the 3rd service is different for all kinds of reasons…I feel more relaxed, the group is smaller, its evening, and I know I’m going to Fred’s Ale House for a pint right afterwards. But all three sermons this week focused on the foolishness with the cross in contrast to the “wisdom” of world—which really isn’t wisdom at all in the eyes of God. As always, there were several points I would explain more, statements I would modify, and new ideas I’d interject. Alas, that is why I blog.
One idea that I would have liked to explore more was the idea that, according to Ephesians 3.8-10 God intends for the church to be THE display of his wisdom. As God’s wisdom is foolishness in the eyes of the world, then the church cannot help but look foolish if it is centered on the cross. This does not mean we need to try and act foolish. It means that the value system of the cross cannot help but look foolish to the world because it is so radically different. We suffer differently. We forgive differently. We spend our time differently. We spend our money differently. We live life differently and we should be concerned about our “cross-centeredness” if we don’t appear foolish like Jesus. It doesn’t mean that we hope to be crucified, but perhaps we should be concerned if we are “loved” by everyone.
Unfortunately, much like the Corinthian church, it seems that many of today’s churches are in danger of abandoning the cross. Of course, that doesn’t mean they stop talking about Jesus; they’ll be sure to mention the cross at least once a year at Easter. More likely is that they stop talking about some of the more offensive implications of the cross. Namely, they refuse to talk about the ugliness and depth of sin, the incredible wrath of a just God, or the insufficiency of men’s self-righteousness. The necessity of the cross doesn’t sit well with those who only want their “ears tickled”. The cross isn’t a tool for tickling. There are many problems with ceasing to be cross-centered and, instead, centering one’s self, family, or church on the wisdom of the world. The biggest problem is that, even though one (or a church) might experience “success”, growth, and excitement, without the cross there can be NO REAL POWER; no power to change, no power to defeat evil, no power to free from sin, no power to heal, no power to save.
I am not sure what is more frightening, that people think they can find joy, overcome hardship, or otherwise “succeed” without the cross; or that, in the eyes of the world, some Christians and churches actually are. God is not fooled by their foolishness.