It’s been a quiet week for me here on the blog and I apologise for that. Life can get a bit hectic at times and as is always the case there is a hierarchy of priorities; blogging isn’t at the top (shock!).
However I have been a busy little beaver and over the weekend I have been busily writing a whole lot of ideas in my Blog Journal. So these next few weeks are going to be busy with some (hopefully) great stuff. Anyway here is a fairly significant Sunday Sermon Post. This sermon is the first that I preached as a pastor. In fact as I read it there are a few things that I could learn from now, funny how that happens. Anyway enjoy.
This message focuses on 1 Corinthians 1:26–31 TNIV, it would be helpful if you read this first.
In these verses Paul wants to deal with the tension that exists within the Church at Corinth. Some people are boasting about their worldly status; believing that it is because they are wise, influential, and of noble birth that they are fit to be Christians; while the majority are, put bluntly, nobodies according to the world.
The problem here is that the Church in Corinth thought that it was because of Status and not Call that they could become Christians. In the Corinth Church it was whether or not you had status in society that decided whether or not you were able to become a Christian. The church was acting like a club for societies elites with the world’s nobodies left out on the fringes.
Paul in this first verse v26 begins to deal with this tension. He writes “think of what you were when you were called.” “When you were called” reminds the Church that it is through God’s doing and not human status that people become Christians.Paul proves this by saying, “Not many of you are wise by HUMAN Standards, not many Influential, not many of Noble Birth.”
And so what did the world place as important must-haves? In v26 Paul identifies three things deemed to give status in Corinthian society:
Being “wise” Gk sophos. The term here means; often refers to a class or kind, a wise man or woman, a person who is skilled or an expert. In the context it could refer to people who are philosophers or intellectuals.
Being “influential” or “powerful” Gk dynamos. This means those who hold positions of power and influence, within government and business and civil society, the elite.
Being of “noble birth” (lit., “well born”). Gk eugenes. Those born with a silver spoon, royalty, children of large estates, born into wealth (you get the Idea).
By mentioning these three terms, Paul has summed up all that humans count as socially, politically, and intellectually important at that time. The question is, “What does it look like in our society, what things give us status?”
It’s not much different today. In our society we have status if we:
Have high Achievements. You often hear, “I have done This, and That and I have been here and There.”
Have an impressive Job. The first thing people ask after, “what is your name?” is “what do you do?”
Are Famous and the Celebrity, recognized in society. It doesn’t matter who you are as long as your famous, just turn the tv on now and you see famous people being worshiped.
Within the Church there is also things that can give us status, often we don’t realize it because we are so shaped by our culture. We can boast if we have a good marriage while we look down on people who are struggling. We feel superior if we don’t have a drinking problem while look un-approving on those who do. We boast if our children are angels and get very frustrated and annoyed when other Children are playing up.We can feel more significant if we help out as much as we possibly can within the Church while we ignore those who don’t.
This first verse basically saying it is not worldly Status that you are Christians, it is only through God’s initiative.
In 1 Cor 1:27-29 human Status is turned on it’s head and is shown to amount to nothing. In these verses Paul shows that God has chosen the nobodies; The foolish things, The weak things, The lowly and despised, those who amount to nothing-people who can claim no status according to the world, Why? To shame those that can.
The foolish to show the wise that it is not because of their wisdom and great understanding that they are Christians.Worldly wisdom will not make you good enough to be a Christian.
The weak to show the Strong that it is not because of their power and influence in society that makes them christians. Power and influence will not make you good enough to be a Christian
The lowly and despised- those that are not which is basically a way of saying those who according to the world did not exist, to bring to nothing the things that are; One commentary puts it like this; “God has chosen the things that are not to render completely ineffective the things that are.” Status, anything that gives you a leg to stand on in the world is rendered completely ineffective.
So what is Paul trying to say? That only the weak and foolish and Lowly, those that are nothing can become Christians? No of course not, we see in verse 26, the first verse, that it starts with “Not many”, which means that some do have status, some are wise, noble and influential.
So what then, well the answer is found in verse 29, “so that no one can boast before him” We are not Christians because of who we are and what we have done. We are Christian because God has Chosen us. God has chosen the nobodies to show the somebodies that he cannot be one over by what you have done.
If we think that we are acceptable to God, because we are Good people or because we are Intelligent and knowledgable then we are wrong, just as much as if we think we are not good enough, or too foolish, or too weak, or too unimportant.
This idea of Not boasting before Him, that is God, has two levels of application, firstly it has a vertical application. Which means we understand our position in front of God, that we by our status or lack of status can’t get to God by our own means or not get to him by our lack of means.
Secondly there is a horizontal application. There is tension within the Church, some are boasting to others about their status causing tension and confusion. If you boast in wisdom or power or status you will never be content. You will never be good enough because there will always be someone better than you. You will always see yourself in an elevated state compared to the person beneath you.
If we are chosen by God then we in ourselves have nothing to boast about, we can treat others as equals instead of feeling inferior or feeling superior.
In 1 Cor 1:30, which is the main verse, we as Christians are in a relationship with the Creator of the Universe, because of Jesus. It is because of Him that we are Chosen, this completes the argument against ‘Status as a way to become a Christian’
How has he done it? Jesus has become for us Wisdom from God, Wisdom it’s self. Which is:
Our Righteousness; bringing us into a right relationship with God, by taking our sin upon himself. 2 Cor 5:21 “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
Our Holiness, or Sanctification; having made possible our growth in grace in the Christian life. Eph. 2:10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
And Redemption; Jesus the one by whom we have been delivered from sin. Romans 3:24 says, “They are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
The devil, hell, and the grave in 1Co 15:55-57 Paul writes “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
In Light of this, how can we boast in anything we have done, It is Christ that has done it for us, all out of God’s grace.
Verse 31 (Conclusion)
In 1 Cor 1:31 we find the application: Anyone who boasts should boast in the Lord
As Christians we have Immense freedom- We are Christians Because of Christ. We don’t need to have status to be in a relationship with Christ, God Choses us. So be at peace. In light of Christ we are no longer in competition there is no reason to boast around people and to feel superior to anyone.
Also we are free to step out and do the things God has called us to do. To Trust God and step out without thought of what other people think.
So what can we walk away from this message with: It is not because of our Status that we are Christians,but what Christ has done for us, so let us boast in Jesus and what he has done for us and what he can do for those who are not yet in a relationship with God yet.