Thursday, March 27, 2014

2 Things You Need to Know

"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."
1 Corinthians 2:2 (NIV)

There are two things you need to know in this life…

Jesus Christ and who he was.
 Jesus Christ and what he did.

The people in first century Corinth were wildly impressed with one's speaking skills.  A good public speaker was admired, respected and listened to regardless of what he might be saying.  It wasn't as much about what was said as it was about how it was said.  Some days it feels like not much has changed.  

We are a society who greatly values image.  We like our political representatives, our leaders and even our pastors to be well spoken, to carry themselves well and to have a certain persona.  Too often this is more important to us than what they might actually be saying.  In general we are easily swayed by a pretty face and smooth tongue.  

In 1 Corinthians 2:1-4 Paul informs the people of Corinth that he did not come to them with eloquent words or superior wisdom, two things the people of Corinth highly valued, two things WE highly value.  Rather he came with the intention of sharing 2 things… Jesus Christ and who he was… and Jesus Christ and what he did.  

Lest we ever forget, let me tell you real quick who Jesus Christ was.  He was the one and only Son of God.  He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.  He was, is and always will be.  He took on human form and lived a perfect life.  He ministered on this earth for 3 years, changing the rules of religion forever.  He healed the sick, raised the dead and gave the blind their sight.  He drove out demons, found the lost and fed the hungry.  He forgave sin.  He was a teacher, a prophet, a priest and a king. 

He was hated by his own, betrayed by a loved one, and arrested on a dark night.   He was beaten, mocked, spit on and slandered.  Though he was innocent he was sentenced to death.  The worst kind of death imaginable.  A kind of death one didn't talk about in polite company in first century Corinth.   

Yet that is exactly what Paul came to tell them.  Paul came to Corinth for the specific purpose of telling these people who Jesus was, and what he did.  

But Jesus story doesn't end there.

He was crucified.  Dead.  Gone.  For three long days.  And then, on the third day, Jesus conquered death.  He rose again.  He walked, he talked, he shared.  He was seen, touched and experienced.  And he still lives today, sitting at the right hand of God!

In Jesus, sin is forgiven, we are set right before God, and we have the chance to live eternal life!

There are a lot of things you will learn in this life.  

There are hundreds of people more eloquent and talented than I, who will tell you what you need to do to be happy, thin, healthy, rich, wise, content, loved… you name it.  But there are only 2 things in this world you need to know.

Jesus Christ and who he was.
Jesus Christ and what he did.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A Message For the Wise

It is a beautiful day in Kansas City today.  The kind of day that lets you know spring WILL come.  The kind of day that gives you hope in new life and resurrection from the old.  The kind of day you breath deeper, cleaning out all the yuck that has accumulated from a long winter that is most likely not quite finished.  

I fully expect a blizzard to roll in tomorrow.  But today I am treasuring the sound of my youngest child playing outside with a friend.  Their laughter, squeals and yells make me smile and for once I don't have to tell them to use their inside voices!  

Today we will spend some time in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, so get our your Bibles and read that section.  

We live in a culture obsessed with knowledge.  We are highly educated and even more highly opinionated.   Everything we could ever want or need to know is right at our fingertips.  And we want and need to know A LOT!!!  Or so we think.  We want medical knowledge, parenting knowledge and financial knowledge.  We want knowledge about current events, the latest technology and hollywood  gossip.  We want to know who to vote for, how something works, and who the Bachelor gave a rose to. And we want to know it now!  Knowledge, however, does not always equal wisdom.  

The first century Corinthians were also knowledgable people.  They prided themselves on the how well spoken they were, how well they were able to influence people around them, how knowledgeable they were.  They felt that they were wise.  But that very "wisdom" they were so proud of, was the one thing keeping them from fully understanding the "message of the cross."  

You see the message of the cross is this… King Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, lived a perfect life.  He had no sin of any kind.  Though he was perfectly innocent in all things he was found guilty and crucified in the most humiliating way.  A way that respectable people did not even talk about in public!!!  He was, is and always will be the King of Kings.  Yet he was crucified!  It makes NO SENSE!  It is ridiculous, an oxymoron.  The only one who could order a crucifixion was a King or his subordinate and no King would order his own crucifixion!  The wise, knowledgable Gentiles of Corinth found this very idea foolish.  Too foolish to comprehend.

Too many people today still find this idea foolish.  Where is God's power?  Where is His might?  How can an all-powerful God allow such a thing.  "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing," it was in the first century and it still is today.  But to those who are being saved (that's you!) it is the power of God.  

God's power is not in his might or his strength.  It is found in the cross.  In His Son… dying…  for you.  

Wisdom, my friend, is different than knowledge.  Wisdom, the kind of wisdom to be treasured, is found in Jesus Christ.  In King Jesus, crucified for you.  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A House Divided

Some days it feels like we are a family divided.  

Isabella is at the barn, Nate is on the baseball field or basketball court, JT is playing with a friend.  Erik is working and I am running around in circles (some days literally).  

But in our hearts we are united.  It doesn't really matter where we might physically be found.  When it all comes down to it, we are one.  

This wasn't the case in first century Corinth.  This was a church that was divided.  And it wasn't just in the church.  This was a culture that embraced division.  It was a culture that thrived on schism.  Influential families would hire sophists or teachers of wisdom to educate their sons.  These teachers didn't teach wisdom as we would think of it (science, literature, math), it was more a how-to-win-friends-and-influence-people type of wisdom.  It was rhetoric.  How to present yourself to others so that they would listen to you and you would then have power and influence.  

Families would pride themselves on the sophist they followed.  They would ridicule those who followed other sophists.  If a sophist said or did something smart, honor was brought to all who followed him.  If he said or did something foolish, shame was brought to his followers.  This was the way the culture worked.  You chose a leader, you pledge allegiance to follow him, and then boasted about his accomplishments.  This was the norm.  It was what everyone in Corinth grew up doing.  It was how they lived.  It was the culture.  So it is no surprise really that they brought this aspect of the culture in to the church.  

Take a minute and read 1 Corinthians 10-17.

The Corinthians took what was perfectly normal in their culture and tried to apply it to the church.   They choose a church leader or apostle, pledged to follow him, then boasted about his accomplishments.  Looking back on this from a 21st century perspective we can see how foolish it is.  But before we start throwing stones, let's take a look at ourselves.  What parts of our culture are SO ingrained in us that we haven't even realized we have applied them to our faith?  Think about the conservative/liberal debates.  How about the way we compartmentalize our faith from the other aspects of our life like work, school and extracurricular activities? Church is on Sunday, maybe on Wednesday, but the other days are secular.  Is this what the first century church practiced or what our culture has dictated?  

These are just a few examples of the way our culture has influenced the way we live out our faith.  I am sure you can think of others.  Honestly, these examples are just as ridiculous as the way the church of Corinth divided themselves among the leaders and disciples.  Paul reprimanded them harshly for it.  Maybe we should be reprimanded as well.  

We are one in Christ, all church bodies (conservative and liberals).  Christ wants to reign if every aspect of our lives, every decision we make, and responsibility we have.  He wants to be part of our work, our school, and all our activities.  He doesn't want to be our Sunday Lord, he wants to be our day by day, minute by minute Lord.  

It is easy to look at the Corinthian Church and see all the places they got it wrong.  It is much much harder to look at ourselves and see where we are getting it wrong.  Even harder than that is to then do something about it.  

Will you, like the Corinthians, be a house that is divided? Or will you begin to let Christ into every aspect of your life every single day?  Will you live out your faith the way Christ wants you to or the way the culture implies you should?