This year we are looking at Wisdom, mostly from Proverbs…but other places in Scripture as well.
We always need wisdom…skillful thinking and living…but at times our need is more self-evident….
“God grant us wisdom during this time of despair and dissension.”
For a few minutes let’s look at the wisdom of the gospel in 1 Cor…Wisdom as power….the power to build trust and bring transformation.
1 Corinthians 1:10
I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
Okay, that’s not realistic…perfect unity in thought? No divisions.
Does he mean that they all agree… “masks, no masks” “phased or complete opening?”
What about the protests…would Paul say the goal is complete agreement on everything going on in culture?
And what about denominations…there are a about a billion of them.
Wow…we are in trouble…we can’t agree on anything.
Well…that’s not exactly true.
Let’s go on…
11 My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
So, in Corinth…they had divided into factions…each named after Christian celebrities.
Paul…church planter, missionary to Gentiles
Apollos…great preacher, lots of charisma
Cephas…Peter, the Rock, Jesus right hand man
Christ…not that this is the good ones…they are just another faction…they happen to name their faction after Jesus.
So, Paul asks…
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? 14 I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
It’s not that he was opposed to baptizing (or course) or that he thought it unimportant.
It’s not that he was opposed to people following his lead…or the lead of others…he encouraged it.
Paul was opposed to any idea or activity that took the focus off the cross of Christ…because there is where the real power for human transformation is found.
They grouped into factions, each pursuing human wisdom in various forms…but wisdom that was not centered in the Cross…the gospel.
So, the factions (the trouble between them)…were the real-world evidence…that there supposed wisdom, was not wise...it didn’t work. (didn’t solve the trouble within them)
God’s wisdom…brings human trust and transformation…the wisdom of the gospel lived by humans brings people together.
Some will try to give evidence that the church doesn’t get along…I can give plenty of evidence that it does…in amazing ways.
They gave their factions “Christian” names…Paul, Peter, Christ…but it lacked the power of Christ…which is centered in the death of Christ…the cross.
These factions were not the equivalent of modern denominations.
A denomination is a “name”…$1, $5, $20…different denominations.
But it’s all money…has power to buy stuff.
The factions Paul was addressing was more like “play money”…no real power behind them.
So, the problem is not groups of Christians calling themselves different things…the problem is when groups of Christians forget the power of the cross to bring change.
When they substitute their own big ideas for God’s big idea…the gospel.
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.
To say we must transform social structures without understanding the essential place of the individual heart in everything…is to miss the point entirely.
Above all else…Proverb’s wisdom says… “Guard your heart, from it flow all the issues of life.”
You cannot change social structures…cultures…without changing hearts.
The gospel changes hearts.
But to say that the “cross of Christ” is the hope of humanity…is to look foolish to those who are enamored with their own forms of wisdom.
To say the gospel is the hope of the world is to be at best…“naïve” “uniformed”
And at worst…judgmental, narrow, hateful.
But it has always looked like folly to those who are captivated and impressed with human wisdom.
Paul is not saying other things don’t need to be addressed…he addresses many social and personal issues in his letters.
He is saying that the power of the cross…Christ dying for the sins of men and women is where the real flow of God’s power happens...lasting change starts there.
That power…when unleashed in hearts…brings transformation within and between people.
You can read all about in the next few verses.
But let’s jump to chapter 2.
When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
Put Paul in a modern political debate…he would lose.
All the networks would declare him in last place.
Other more eloquent speakers with great human wisdom…would be the clear winners.
And yet, they would be wrong.
To win the argument does not mean you are on the side of truth.
There is a difference between the power of persuasive words and the power of God.
Many people have the power of words…these words shape minds and influence lives.
But the power of the gospel…transforms human hearts inside out.
Transformed hearts…lead to transformed relationships.
Jump again…down to chapter 3
Paul calls these people who believed themselves to be brilliant, who thought they were the wise of the wise…infants.
Still drinking milk not ready for solid food.
Think about it…if you think you are simply brilliant….the top of the human intellectual food chain…and Paul says…you’re an infant.
Can eat solid food.
Why? Because though they could speak with great eloquence…each had their own podcasts, Twitter following, each was an influencer…
The failed the starting point for wisdom…which is, remember “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and to know the Holy One is understanding.”
Then they demonstrated their lack of immaturity by their “jealousy and quarreling”
By their tendency to group up…one faction against another.
Listen to 3:18 “Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of the world is foolishness in God’s sight.”
He is not arguing for intentional ignorance or anti-intellectualism…Paul was an intellectual himself...he was a learner, an academic.
He was simply saying that the wisdom that discounts the gospel is not wisdom at all.
Better to be thought a fool by people than be a known to be a fool by God.
Leaders’ from across political, social spectrums are all making statements right now.
My leaders have made statements:
-Gen Lengyl…head of the Guard
-President Trump…commander in Chief
-Governor Kelly…commonader of the KS guard.
They are fine…set in time…not timeless.
But my leader, who stands above all other leaders made statement about this time….
Jesus spoke a couple thousand years ago…when human sin was manifested in slavery, oppression of women and children…race against race.
His statement, has not been superseded…not been updated or improved
It is timeless…because he is timeless.
Here is our leader’s statement to the current and every future crisis and situation.
Jesus was asked… “Teacher which is the greatest commandment in the law?”
Or… “Looks like you have started a movement…can you make a statement?”
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Then, our leader…took his own words very literally.
He told God the Father…as he contemplated, with anguish his pending death on the cross...“Not my will but yours be done”…
Then he cried out to his Father while on the cross “Forgive them…they don’t know what they are doing.” They are foolish children, who believe they are wise.
Then he cried out to the entire cosmos…“It is finished”
I understand and expect that to say with Paul, “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for everyone who believes.”
That I will be met with skepticism and sarcasm and criticism…
But I know this…everyone is giving their lives for something…everyone is staking everything on something.
Everyone is living by faith…everyone.
I am convinced that the gospel is the power of God for transformation in us leading to transformation between us.
Love God, love people…that is my leader’s statement…I’ll go with it.