Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sermon for 2/6/11 - It's God's, Not Mine

Sermon: "It's God's not Mine" 1 Corinthians 2.1-12

May we see Your glory and Your priorities rightly. May we be conformed to your image by Your mighty power, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

We take joy in our personal possessions and in our creations, don't we? I remember my wife starting to learn to sew. She was so very pleased to be able to say that she made something herself. And we can do a lot of things that we take some pride, probably a positive kind of pride in. I remember when I made a bookcase unit that exactly fit one entire wall of our home. It worked neatly around the window in our master bedroom. It even had one shelf that was extra deep right at the side of our bed so I would have a nightstand built in. Everyone liked it and I enjoyed the fact that people liked it. How about a parent's knowledge of and pleasure in a child? We're rightly proud of our children's accomplishments and the positive fruit we see in their lives. And we know them in some ways better than they know themselves. Certainly we know them better than any stranger would know them. We know what makes our children tick.

How well does our Lord know this world he has created? He has complete, intimate knowledge of it. He knows what is right and wrong. He knows what is good and productive. He knows what makes it tick. And he takes pleasure in that knowledge, in that understanding of his creation. He takes pleasure in what is good for this world. God, in fact, knows how life and salvation work. And he defends it, nurtures it, rejoices in it.

So why is it that we seem to think it would be a good idea to be God for the day? I've recently been reviewing Luther's Small Catechism on the 1st Commandment. What's the first commandment? (wait for response) What does this mean? (wait for response) We should fear, love and trust in God above all things. This means that we let God have his say. We let him govern this world that he created, understands, and redeemed. We take God's attitudes seriously. We ask him to conform us to his image, rather than trying to conform him to our image.

Here are just a few of the differences I noticed between God's attitudes and our attitudes in today's readings.

From Isaiah?

God says that all sin is deadly. We would rather characterize sin as just a mistake, normally not important.

God says that our works need to be entirely consistent. We do things and say we really didn't mean it. We might think we could worship an idol or do some other act that denies God but not mean it.

Our Lord indicates that true worship releases us from bondage. It's about God and his activity. We tend to think that worship is really about us and the way we feel.

God pictures himself as truly involved in this world and all its affairs. We quite frankly think that we don't want to bother God with the details of our lives, our fears, our hurts.

In Matthew 5 we see that God views his Law as perfect. We'd rather think that God is suggesting things or giving advice.

Our Lord pictures a world in which we are truly bound, obligated, to obey God. We tend to think obedience is merely good, genuinely optional.

And as we get to 1 Corinthians 2, we see that the Gospel is simple. Paul pictures the Gospel of Christ as something that can be understood by anyone. We have a tendency to think that good teaching is a difficult thing, that most people really won't understand anything that is important, at least not if we try to explain it clearly and in detail. I don't know where we get this idea. After all, if you tell someone about something clearly and in detail, the person really should be expected to understand, right?

We see that Christ crucified for sin actually changes us. This is the Gospel that Paul is talking about. It's good news. Jesus Christ, given for our sin, really does take away our sin and change us. However, we seem to think that Jesus is just here as an object lesson, that we merely learn from Jesus' good attitude and love.

The message of Paul in 1 Corinthians 2 is that God's wisdom never changes. The same Gospel which has been operative since the foundation of the world is still in effect, it is still God's power. We seem to think we need to come up with good new things, and that whatever is old must be ineffective.

The message of the Scripture is about a God who reveals himself, who has revealed himself in these last days in the person and work of Jesus Christ, crucified for sinners, dead, buried, resurrected, and ascended, who will come again. Salvation begins and ends with the work of Christ. Our message sems to be that we are the mediators of our life and salvation, that we reach up to God and prove our worthiness to him.

When Paul came to Corinth he made a point to stick to the message, God's message, Christ crucified for sinners. This is the Gospel we look to as well. We look to the Gospel shown here and now in bread and wine, body and blood. We look to Christ's death applied to our account, bringing us life and salvation.

May the Lord ever confront us with his Gospel, Christ crucified for sinners, God's sufficient answer to our sin. Let us pray.

Our God, we thank you that you have given us your Gospel. We thank you that you have revealed your love for your people in these last days by providing for life and salvation, giving your Son to take our place in death for sin. Draw us to you in faith, believing that you are indeed the one who redeems the world to yourself. This we ask through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.


Dave Spotts
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