Hi everyone. Rob here.
We’ve been going through 1 Corinthians as a church this year. It’s amazing just how many issues in that book seem so current today: Homosexuality, sexuality in general, gender issues, the divide between rich and poor, lawsuits, status-seeking, celebrity leaders and more. Paul spends most of the letter reminding them that they are a community formed out of a new identity won for them at the cross of Christ. They are not to be like the pagan, status-driven world around them, but a new humanity living life in a new way. As Paul writes,
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 (1 Corinthians 1:18).
The message of the cross is the power of God. Paul will eventually work his way to the resurrection in chapter 15, but it’s the cross that he wants the Corinthian church to be focused on. Why? Because their world is all about status. It’s about the satisfaction of the ego. It’s about self-advancement and self-glorification. While they had experienced Christ they were yet to die to this basic orientation of self. This is why the issues Paul’s addressing are so contemporary. Our western culture shares the same basic orientation to self that the Corinthians do. So we too desperately need the message of the cross.
To come to the cross is to die to self. It is to die with Christ so you can receive the life of Christ. It is to die to the world so that you can enter into God’s realm. It is where the world, the flesh and the devil die to you so that you can live a life of freedom. Both pride and shame are put to death at the cross. Self glorification and self condemnation have no place for the one who now receives God’s verdict on them. What is that verdict? You are my son! You are my daughter! You are my child! No wonder Paul says that the cross is the power of God. Imagine a world where there’s no selfishness. A world where we’ve all died to sin and come alive to God. A world where we’ve all received God as Father and Christ as Brother and the Spirit who will never let us forget our place in the family. That place would be the kingdom of God and it has entered our world through Jesus.
Today is the day for us to take our place in God’s kingdom. Today is the day to once again come to the cross of Christ and receive the freedom that dying to sin and self brings. Today is the day to come alive to God because Christ is also the Risen One. It is also the day to take our place once again in God’s bride, the Church. Like the Corinthians we are forgetful and flawed in many ways, but we are held together by Christ and not our own efforts. There is a joy to be had in community, especially when it’s a community committed to dying and rising with Christ. Find your allies in the kingdom’s cause because you’ll need them.
The Corinthians faced a world that was hostile to the idea of dying to self. In many ways our world is much the same except our temples look like shopping malls, casinos and fancy new sub-divisions. The myth of self-satisfaction is a powerful story. It’s even loosely based on truth. each one of us will be fulfilled, but it begins by dying. It happens by getting our old selves out of the way and being clothed with Christ. May we all “know the grace of a deep and true repentance (John Eldredge).” May we all know the power of the cross.
Grace and peace everyone.