We continue our look at Paul’s letter to the Church in Corinth. Paul continues to teach and guide the community towards a humble form of wisdom that is found in God.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 2: 1-16
Called to be together, siblings in Christ.
“Paul asserts he did not come with lofty words of wisdom precisely so that we would not rely on human wisdom. This is an explicit counterpoint to the claim or boast of wisdom among the followers of particular Corinthian teachers and the resulting divisions.” (Nancy Lammers Gross – https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/revised-common-lectionary/fifth-sunday-after-epiphany/commentary-on-1-corinthians-21-12-13-16-5)
I came to you in weakness, and fear, and much trembling.
It’s a funny thing we do and perhaps even believe. We hold as our truth that God chose to walk the Earth in human form in hopes of showing us a better way of living. That God was so committed to this task that God would die for it. Would die to see it through.
In his commentary on 1 Corinthians NT Wrights puts it this way, “Imagine finding yourself, says Wright, standing up to make a speech in front of an audience of the great and the good, and having nothing to say except some stammering words about a strange thing that happened a few years ago which you know sounds crazy but which you just happen to think contains the secret to everything.
“You’d watch the faces, and see a lip curl here, an eyebrow lift there, people glancing at one another with knowing looks, shaking their heads not only at the stupidity of what’s being said but at the insult to the audience to offer them such rubbish.” (Illustration provided by the Centre for Excellence in Preaching – 1 Corinthians 2:1-12 (13-16) – Center for Excellence in Preaching (cepreaching.org))
Imagine my predicament. I don’t get up each week to talk about an event that happened a few years ago, but one that occurred two thousand years ago. From a book that contains, stories, histories, and poetry that date back four and five thousand years.
And in some ways, that’s your predicament too. How do we share this faith we have with others? How do we take the accounts we find in scripture and share them with others. I’ve often recounted in a joking manner that I each week I try to make sense of a really old book. Of course, it’s much, much more than that. We are articulating our faith, what we believe about the world, the universe, and its creation, indeed its creator. That’s some really big stuff to share. Of course, it’s also Paul’s predicament as he reaches out to this community of faith that he has formed which has questions and seems to be struggling.
I’ll be honest and say it’s a bit of a relief to have in scripture a church community which is struggling and to see a preacher or disciple, however you wish to describe Paul, help lead people through things. A reminder that when we are uncertain, confused, or lost that we aren’t alone and that we have places to turn to find wisdom which will lead us to a better place.
Paul’s words to the community in Corinth speak of the life of Christ. Humble in origins. Paul didn’t use lofty words as he shared about the mystery of God and Christ’s life. He spoke plainly. Paul doesn’t pretend that he has all the answers, but he is more than able to point to where he believes those answers are found: God. Specifically, the Spirit of God. This is where we find the wisdom of God revealed to us.
In writing to the church in Corinth Paul is making links between wisdom and power. His argument is that wisdom is found in and through God and that despite what the world and those around us might say, this is also where the power that matters is. Not the power of kings and emperors or CEOs and presidents, but the power to have a direct impact on the life of someone around you. Paul is responding to a community that is frustrated with one another and disagreeing on how to live and engage with one another.
Paul’s comment is that the rulers of this world didn’t have the wisdom to see what God was doing through Christ. Paul writes, “But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
Paul urges them to disregard the wisdom of the world which says look out for yourself, but instead to embody the wisdom of God which says look out for your neighbour in the same way you look out for yourself. The command is to love your neighbour as yourself, not to love yourself and then your neighbour. Neighbour is put first.
Paul urges the community to consider the gifts they have and how that can be used to benefit the whole community. Reminding them that God has blessed them with the skills and tools necessary.
I think this is where things intersect with the gospel passage. The call of Jesus for us to be salt and light to the world. To recognize the gifts we have, the opportunities that are in front of us, and the impact we can make in our community.
But salt left in the shaker doesn’t season food and light which is hidden doesn’t serve a purpose. So let’s let our light shine and share the good news that we have in Jesus Christ. Amen.
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Cobourg is part of the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The congregation was established in 1833 and continues to serve the community.
St. Andrew’s supports the gathering of community agencies, providing space for the Affordable Housing Committee. Rev. Ellis’ voice is key in advocating for improvements in awareness, empathy and action on key determinants such as housing, income and food security.
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