We often have our own ideas of how God should show up in our lives, but God chooses the boundaries of our relationship. The Corinthian church has both Greek and Jewish members, and each group of believers has its own ideas of how God should show up in the world. The Jews want a God recognizable by power. The Greeks want a God known by wisdom.
God is indeed known by power and wisdom but not in ways the world expects such attributes to play out. Christ crucified on the cross is God’s idea of power and wisdom through humility, servanthood, and love. The crucified Christ is God’s central way of revealing God’s self to humanity and seeking relationship with us. But for the Corinthians’ culture and time, the cross is a symbol of failure, weakness, and defeat. Paul’s message about God’s choosing the cross makes no sense to believers. But that is the point: The God of the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection makes little sense to human minds.
The wisdom of the world is often at odds with the wisdom of God. Paul’s message to the church in Corinth is as relevant today as it was then. If we believe we are made in the image of God and called to mimic God, then we have to abide by the way God chooses to reveal God’s self to us. God has chosen the servant way of the cross. Success in the kingdom of God may look different than success in the world. To follow Christ means to agree to new standards of what it means to be powerful and wise, even in ways that may look weak and foolish by the world’s standards. The world’s benchmarks no longer apply to how we judge and live our lives. Christ is our benchmark. Christ is the power and the wisdom of God.
Lord, help me to discern between your ways and the ways of the world, and turn my heart toward your ways. Amen.
We must beware counterfeit gospels. According to one current counterfeit gospel, we deserve God’s favor based on our deeds or intellect or status. The readings for this week remind us that this is false. Yes, the Israelites offer sacrifices, but they are first and foremost called to show mercy because they have received divine mercy. The psalmist asks who can stand in God’s holy dwelling and so provides a list of ways to live morally. Ultimately no one can stand before God on merit alone. Paul reminds the Corinthians that human wisdom is foolishness compared to the wisdom of God, and thus we should not puff ourselves up based on our intellect. Jesus teaches that those who may seem insignificant in the eyes of the world are great in the kingdom of heaven.
Read Micah 6:1-8. How have you let down God? What changes can you make to recommit to your relationship with God?
Read Psalm 15. Consider the notion that the requirements for dwelling with God are in how we treat our friends and neighbors. How does this change the ways you seek God?
Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. When have you seen God’s work in the world in a way that is antithetical to human standards?
Read Matthew 5:1-12. How do you maintain a poverty of spirit in your relationship with God? How does this help you to serve God and others?
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