Monday, September 21, 2009

Pentecost 16

The sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost
1 Corinthians 1:18-25
Bror Erickson

[18] For the word of the cross is folly 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,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart."

[20] Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? [21] For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. [22] For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, [23] but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, [24] but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. [25] For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Cor. 1:18-25 (ESV)

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” It is quite amazing isn’t it? The word of the cross? That God would become man, lower himself to our status out of love for the world, a world we ourselves have a love hate relationship with, and die on the cross in our place, so that our sins would be forgiven.
People have so much trouble with the cross that at times it is hard to get your mind around it all. I mean, why so much trouble with God forgives you? Some claim that it is divine child abuse that the Father would do this to the Son, when it was the Son who did it of His own accord. To some it is blasphemous to think that God would take on human form, eat, sleep, and relieve Himself as us humans do. Perhaps even more than that is that for many it is just simply too easy. Explaining the cross the other night to a gentleman I got “That’s it”. It is that easy. He died for us, we are forgiven. That is Christianity?
Too many have made Christianity into something else. A system of works to gain heaven. Perhaps it is about donating to liberal causes. Or perhaps it is about being a morally upright person. “You can’t preach, forgiveness of sins, free for all” can you? “Doesn’t that encourage sin?” That is the reaction I most often get. Then what is to stop me from doing this and that. I find though that it does not encourage sin. Law encourages sin. Sure it tells us not to do this and that. But it doesn’t stop us from doing those things, and often awakens a desire in our hearts to do those things it has told us not to do. Paul says “I would not have known to covet, except that the law told me not to.” People are afraid I might have a congregation full of sinners. I wish I had a few more here. Of course, my congregation is going to be full of sinners. Ever met anyone that wasn’t a sinner? Preaching law doesn’t stop them from being sinners, but preaching the gospel does forgive them of sins. And that is what us sinners need most, forgiveness in the name of Christ who died on the cross for us. On the one hand it is fairly simple. We are forgiven. On the other hand it is quite complex what God had to do in order to forgive our sins. But in light of the fact that He died for our sins, in our place, one has to ask what more could we really hope to do? Do we really think we have something that could make His death a more perfect sacrifice for our sins? “That’s it.” As if God becoming man, and dying in our place was a simple thing. (Almost always followed by the blasphemous thought that “I would do that if I could, there is nothing special about it. Really? Would you? Would you really die for the whole world? The whole world? Not just those people you love, but those who right now you truly despise at the bottom of your heart. The ones who use their left hand as toilet paper, and their right hand to shoot at Marines? The ones who voted for the president you don’t like, the ones you blame for ruining this country? Would you die for a mass murderer, a Hitler? Jesus did. Not only that He died for you, while you were yet a sinner, and an enemy of God.)
“All we have to do is believe?” Faith isn’t such a simple thing either, it is beyond our capabilities. It takes an act of God for us to believe. The fact that we believe in Christ for our forgiveness is nothing short of a miracle. We couldn’t do it on our own. God had to do it for us.
No it isn’t an easy thing to believe the cross. To those who are perishing it is the height of folly to believe this. Not an easy thing at all. Not even an easy thing to convey. It is folly to the world. It couldn’t be that easy? The world knows only law. But God knows of Grace, Mercy, and Love, and for these three He sent His Son to die for us on the Cross, that the law might be satisfied, and we forgiven of all our sins. That being forgiven by the Blood of Jesus, the Blood of God, we might have eternal salvation, find in there, in the blood of Jesus, the true power of God, power that saves sinners from sin death and the power of the devil.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord Amen.

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