Really, what matters?
Strength? Wisdom? Wealth? Power?
These are things that men occupy their time and pursuits with. While some have success in all of these areas, others excel in only one and still untold multitudes reach none of these markers of significance. Like a marathon race, each are losers except the winner. Exhausted and spent, many cross the finish line with nothing to show for it except that they are tired and they ran. Many live, and some live long, but at the end they have little to show for it.
In the Corinthian Church, they had issues which they debated and wrangled with. While writing his letter to the Corinthians, Paul begins with praising their aptitude for spiritual gifts, but shortly he begins to call them carnal, immature Christians.
The reason is they were debating amongst themselves who was most significant. In summary of these first few chapters, Paul is trying to nail down what matters. To show them, he enumerated the point of significance.
He appeals to those who consider themselves wise and he states emphatically, â€œFor after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God.â€ In essence, he states that, if they were so smart, how is it they could not figure out there was a God?
He tells them, â€œGod has chosen the foolish things of this world to challenge the wise men of this world. He has chosen the weak things to confound the strong.â€
The wise get alzhiemers.
The Strong get old and break down.
The wealth of this world is can vanish, burn up and lose value.
The powers of this world are Dynasties with no destiny. We see it in the image of Nebuchadnezzar. He was a man that ruled over all, and whose kingdom was of Gold, but it diminished each time the kingdom changed hands, illustrating the weakness of human governance.
However, what actually remains true in value over time?
Strength? Wisdom? Wealth? Power?
â€œFor the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.â€Â 1 Cor 1:18-25
It challenges humanity to consider that what our hope rests in is a man hanging, bleeding, suffering, and finally dying on a tree.
How can this be so great?
The centerpiece of the Gospel and its Power is boiled down and illustrated in this central theme.
We see the Revelation of God.
We see a man, who was more than a man. He was the God Man. Robed in Flesh. Wrapped in the weakness of humanity. Walking the dusty roads of hardship. Feeling the realities of living. He was born in simple surroundings to common people living in a depressed era. He experienced what it was like to be a little boy. He experienced what it was like to be a son of man. He experienced the joys of family. He knew the love of a mother. He tasted the sweat of hard work.
This God who became a man was first a baby who became a boy, who became a teenager, who â€œbecameâ€.
This is the struggle in which we are all involved, the struggle of â€œbecomingâ€. Godâ€™s great test was that He was able to become a man. Our great struggle, as men, is to become like Him.
This man felt the pressure of his parents to step out. I hear the words of Mary, â€œWhatever he tells you to doâ€¦â€ Here at the beginning, I think we see that God even humbled himself to the chiding of a mother. â€œWhat have I to do with thee woman?â€
However, He as a man understood the wisdom of a simple woman, and fulfilled the plan of God. For thirty years it seems he existed in obscurity, wrestling with his identity and his purpose, but on that fateful day when John pointed him out, the appointment of Christ came through the voice and pointing of another man. It is something important for us to understand, recognition is not something you can heap on yourself, but it is ordained by God that our recognition and unveiling be made by others.
We see what followed was a brisk three years of ministry. From that inaugural wedding celebration to the ultimate climax of his life on that dark day at Calvary, we see that what transpired on that day was the purpose of his ministry. Yea the purpose of his manifestation was this obscure, curious ritual we see at Calvary.
Imagine with me looking at this event through the eyes of a world reaching for money, strength wealth and power.
Paul said it was a stumbling block to the Jew and foolishness to the Greek. The Jew had their religion in prescribed formulas and rituals. They had it all figured out. Messiah would come on their termsâ€¦ or so they thought. So, as they looked toward heaven for Messiah, all the while he was walking among them, talking to them, laughing with them, crying for them and, finally, dying for all to see. How can this be?
Religion wants its solution in easy, clean, definable steps. But the gospel is not one, three or ten definable steps to completeness. The Gospel is and was a religion buster.
They stumbled at this, Messiah leaving them under roman rule?
And the Greek. The philosopher in all his wisdom could not wrap his brain around the significance of something so quaint. The peace and fulfillment of man to be wrapped in the dirty cover of crucifixion? Say it isnâ€™t so!
While some stumble and others snicker, let me proclaim to you unequivocally, â€œThe Cross is the Centerpiece of our Hope!â€
For the wise, Looking to dissect and reconstruct redemption on their own terms. The source of salvation could not, and can not, be taken apart and put back together so it makes sense.
A picture of a man stripped of his humanity, beaten beyond recognition, gasping through indescribable pain so that they can be saved from their sins. They would rather debate the relativity of wrong, than face the truth of their own flaws; for the truth is they are sinners who needed Christ to Die for them so they would not suffer judgment for the sinâ€¦ yes sinâ€¦ they have done.
Still to this day the Religious, the Philosophers and the Religious Scholars remove the truth of the Cross from their equation to discuss issues that distract from the true beauty of itâ€™s simplicity.
The â€œSimplicityâ€ is that Humanity needed a savior. They needed innocent blood to be shed for the darkness of their own hearts and imaginations. No one stands outside this need. We all need a savior. We never reach a point in our development where Calvary and itâ€™s all atoning work is not needed. I need it today.
If you will confess this fact, you are on your way to understanding the mystery of the ages. It is our recognition of this Seminal Moment, that can begin you down a journey of hope.
No other event has impacted our world greater. The earth shook, the sky darkened, even the calendar of time split and became redefined.
Through this history-changing Event, we Have Hope.
This is what really matters. Our acceptance and faith in this event when we bring ourselves to that place of guilt, we give ourselves opportunity for pardon.
â€œCome now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.â€
This is what really matters.
â€œLet the weak say I am strong, let the poor say I am rich, Because of what the lord has done for us!â€
Article edited by Jay Jones. Written byÂ Scott Phillips, pastor of New Birth Pentecostal Church .