Healthy Church: Foolish Words

February 21, 2023

Series: Healthy Church

Bible Passage: 1 Corinthians 1:26 - 2:5

Last Sunday God’s Word was taking shots at the wisdom of humanity.  Specifically verse 19 says the God of Scripture will “destroy the wisdom of humanity.”  Verse 20 asks the question, “Where is the wise person?”  God’s talking trash!

At first glance we might agree as we laugh at the foolishness of humanity but it isn’t long before we realize that we too are included in the foolishness of humanity and on some level that should rub us the wrong way.

We don’t want to think of ourselves as foolish.  After all, most of us have been told our whole lives, “You can do anything you want!”  You can be anything you want as long as you believe in yourself and work hard”.  This is called the philosophy self-determination.  We love it!

You can be in the NBA!  You can be a YouTuber!  You can have everything you ever wanted in life and everyone is going to think you’re amazing!  Some of us are discouraged at this season of life because we’re discovering that we’re not as amazing as we thought.

Our health is breaking down.  Our schedules are inconsistent.  Our relationships are struggling.  Our career is unstable.  Our decisions in life aren’t unfolding as planned and we get frustrated.  The reason we are frustrated is because life isn’t happening the way we want to happen and as gently as possible God’s Word is saying to us this morning, “We’re not as capable as we think we are.”  We’re more fragile than we want to admit.  We’re more limited than we want to admit.  Let’s look at verse 26:

1 Corinthians 1:26, “26 For consider your calling, brothers and sisters, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;” 

Look at that giant hug in verse 26, “Not many wise, not many mighty, not many noble.”  Do you see that in verse 26?  Isn’t that sweet?  The Apostle Paul is talking about the people in the Corinthian church and saying, “Not that impressive!”

The phrase “not many were wise according to the flesh, means in our worldly perspective nobody was seeking out the wisdom of the Corinthian church.  Nobody was asking the Corinthian church to solve problems in the world.  Nobody was really inviting them to the social parties of the day, so that the Corinthian church was made up of a bunch of regular, normal, average, unimportant types of people.

Listen to me, if you’re not honest, that’s a little offensive. We live in a world city like Austin.  The majority of the people in Austin, the majority of the people in this room, might not say it out loud, but deep down we look at our degrees, our titles, our appearances, our accomplishments and feel pretty good about ourselves.

In fact, there’s probably some of us looking at verse 26 and saying to ourselves, “Verse 26 says ‘not many.”’  Doesn’t mean all were unimpressive!  Maybe we are one of the impressive ones!  Let’s look at verses 27-29:

1 Corinthians 1:27-29, “ but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the insignificant things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no human may boast before God.” 

(Detestable / Meaningless) Do you see God’s word repelling the pride of humanity?  Deep down in every person in this room is this uncontrollable response to say, “Look at what I did!”  You might not say it out loud but we spend the majority of our day thinking about ourselves, what we want, what we look like, what we want others to think about us and God’s Word says, “Not interested!”

And, it isn’t as though God of Scripture is stumbled upon those who were weak, foolish, and despised but the word “chosen” is repeated three times.  He chose those who were foolish.  He chose those who were weak.  He chose those who were despised.

Last Sunday our passage made it really clear that nobody in humanity is going to choose God on our own.  Nobody in humanity would conclude that the God of Scripture is best for them, therefore, if any of are in relationship with the God of Scripture it’s because He chose us and verses 27-29 tells us the types of people He has chosen!

Isn’t that how every person comes to Christ?  I didn’t come to Jesus with answers.  I came to Jesus with questions.  I came to Jesus with a lack of understanding.  I came to Jesus thinking I was the most important person in life only to find out that He’s the most important.  Sit in that for a second.

Imagine a social event taking place at ACL Moody Theater.  You are walking down 2nd street and you see the red carpet is being rolled out.  The cameras are flashing in Austin, TX.  The music is blaring.  The decorations are on point.

You look more closely to who you might see walking into the event.  Is it Matthew Mcconaughey?  Is it Drew Brees?  Is it the new mayor?  Is it Joe Rogan?  Is it Michael Dell?  Is it Willie?

And as you look more closely you see it’s the homeless person you see every day at the corner.  It’s the most insignificant person in your workplace.  It’s the person at school that everyone ignores.  It’s the detestable people of our day and everyone is clamoring to get their picture, so that God’s Word is introducing a completely different value system this morning.

Our whole lives we’ve been taught that getting to the top is success.  We esteem those who are in a place of position at the top.  In school, we want to be at the top of our class.  In sports, we want to be the star athlete.  On social media, we want the most followers.  Even in the local church, we want the most people and if there are a lot of people in our church then our church is winning because our value system is about getting to the top.

But in God’s Word we see the heart of God is just the opposite.  In God’s Word we see the heart of God bending toward those who are humble.  We see God’s Word bending toward those who are not trying to convince everyone where they are strong but able to admit where they are weak.  We see God’s Word bending toward those who are at the bottom of the social structure and placing His affections on them.  Isn’t that interesting?

Right now, our culture is having conversations around social injustice and the narrative is primarily around power dynamics.  You watch movies, listen to songs, read the news and the primary goal is to take those who are at the top of the power (white, men) and the goal is to disrupt the power dynamics so that those who are at the bottom have a chance to get to the top.  Do you see this?

How do you disrupt the power dynamics?  You have to create division.  You have to pit one group against the next.  You have to tear down those who are at the top.  You need quarrels.  You need instability.  This is the cycle we are living in right now because as soon as anyone makes it to the top, someone is at the bottom so that cycles get repeated over and over.

But in God’s Word the heart of God actually bends toward those who are at the bottom to shame those who are at the top.  Do you see that in verse 28?  He bends toward those who are weak to shame those who are strong.

It isn’t to get those who are at the bottom to the top.  It’s God’s way of bringing glory to Himself.  If the strong and the significant think Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is foolish then the God of Scripture says, “I will move in the lives of the people who are the most insignificant in the eyes of this world, I will proclaim my glory around the world, and I will do it with the nobodies of the world, so as only to bring more glory to Myself.”  Does that make sense?

This isn’t just a theme in the letter to the Corinthians but this is the pattern throughout God’s Word.  In Genesis God chooses Abraham, a nobody as a worshiper of rocks.  In Exodus God chooses Moses, a baby thrown down the river.  God chooses Joseph the overlooked brother.  God chooses David the overlooked brother.  In the book of Jonah God chooses, not about the amazing hero who saves the day, but Jonah who runs from God.

In the New Testament God chooses Peter, an overzealous fisherman.  God chooses Mary Magdalen, the nobody to report Jesus’ resurrection.  God chose Matthew the Tax Collector who was despised by the Jewish community, so that our only response has to be, “It must be the glory of God.”

Listen to me church family, we who are in Christ are those people.  It doesn’t mean we are worthless according to this world.  It means the God of Scripture loves to work in our weakness.  He loves to show up in our foolishness.  He loves to see us come to the end of our rope, because it is in those moments that He can do some of His greatest work.  Look at verses 30-31:

1 Corinthians 1:30-31, “30 But it is due to Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written: “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

It isn’t that humanity is worthless.  It’s just the opposite.  Humanity was made in the image of God with incredible worth but in our sin, we have determined the self is what’s most important, therefore, we pursue self and we boast in our self-accomplishments.  Me, me, me, I love myself, I have my picture on my shelf, but in verse 30 our value isn’t due to ourselves but our value is due to Christ!

It’s similar to Philippians 3 when the Apostle Paul writes, “If anyone had a reason to boast in the flesh it was him.  He was the top of his class, top of society, top of morality,” and in Philippians 3 Paul writes, “I count those things as worthless compared to all he has been given in Christ!”  Sit in that for a second.  These values of self-accomplishment have been engrained in us since birth but God’s Word is teaching us those things are worthless compared to all we’ve been given in Christ.

Just do a cross comparative analysis.  Draw a line down the center of the page, create two columns with Jesus on one side and self-accomplishment on the other and consider, “What does it to your anxiety to focus on who has more in life and who has less?”  Comparison, division, quarrels.

What does it do to your sleep to focus on trying to get to the top of your class?  Restless, worry, anxiety, pride, despair.  What does it do to your relationships to focus on where you are in the pecking order?  Who was invited, who wasn’t, why.  Division, quarrels and conflicts are off the charts!

Even if you are winning in all those areas of life you never arrive.  There is always someone threatening your accomplishments.  There is always someone doing better than your accomplishments.  You are always having to guard what you have and keep growing what you have so you don’t fall behind.  It’s exhausting!  It’s worthless!

Then let us compare what we are given in Christ by grace through faith and through faith in Jesus we are given His wisdom.  Jesus is the righteousness of God revealed from heaven and by grace through faith in Jesus we are given His righteousness.

Listen to me, this desire we have to be perfect, be flawless, climb to the top of the ladder in life is called self-righteousness.  We are trying to attain the righteousness of God on our own but Jesus has come to give us His righteousness by grace through faith in Him!

The word “sanctification” means to be set apart so that by grace through faith in Jesus we are given new life, new eyes, new mind, new purpose and a new value system by which to navigate this life.

The idea of “redemption” is an accounting term, so that through faith in Jesus so that through faith in Jesus we are purchased. We’re trying to purchase our security in life and Jesus says, “I will purchase you with My blood at the cross so that we belong to Him.”

Which column is greater?  Therefore, the Apostle Paul writes, “Let he who boasts, not in ourselves that leads to quarrels, fights and conflict but let us boast in the Lord!” Look at chapter 2, verses 1-2:

1 Corinthians 2:1-2, “1 And when I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come as someone superior in speaking ability or wisdom, as I proclaimed to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” 

In verses 1-2 the Apostle Paul is going to transition to his approach toward the Corinthian church.  The Apostle Paul knows they are impressed with great orators.  He knows they have been influenced by people like Plato and Aristotle, and the Apostle Paul wasn’t physically impressive.

It’s sad that Paul was small in stature.  It’s possible Paul mumbled or stuttered when he spoke in front of people, therefore, the Apostle Paul doubled down on Jesus.  He proclaimed the testimony of God, verse 1.  He committed himself to nothing but knowing Jesus, verse 2.

Listen to me church family, maybe you are in a season where you are discouraged and frustrated?  The problem isn’t your diet, although it’s good to think about your diet.  The problem isn’t your spouse.  The problem isn’t your kids.  The problem is we are putting our hopes and dreams in our ability to manage our life and God’s Word is teaching us to put Christ first!

We might say, “What does that look like?”  Well, it starts with getting into God’s Word every day.  It means reading about the life of Jesus, knowing the life of Jesus, knowing the heart of God, so that you are learning how to hear from God through His Word and obey His Word because it’s Jesus and His Word that changes lives!  Look at verses 3-5:

1 Corinthians 2:3-5, “3 I also was with you in weakness and fear, and in great trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of mankind, but on the power of God.”

In Paul’s first missionary journey Paul was chased out of Philippi, ran out of Thessalonica, chased out of Berea, ran out of Athens, so that when Paul shows up in Corinth he is exhausted.

Paul didn’t show up like a great and mighty influencer of his day.  He didn’t have a traveling band with him to make him look impressive.  Instead, Paul showed up in weakness, fear, and trembling, and in that context the Corinthian church was started.  Does that make sense?

How did that happen?  The Apostle Paul pointed them to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and as a result “the demonstration of the Spirit” showed up!  Do you see that in verse 4?  Paul could have started tearing down their philosophy.  Paul could have exposed their idolatry.  But instead Paul relied on the power of the cross to bring about undeniable transformation in the lives of regular people.  Isn’t that good?

That’s the story of our church family.  We were never meant to be physically impressive.  We were never meant to be the movers and shakers of our city.  We were never meant to be these amazing parents who had it all figured out.  It was always supposed to be about Jesus and a people who are captive by Jesus.

Therefore, we need to ask ourselves, “Am I trying to hold my life together? Or am I taking the steps to know Jesus, walk with Jesus and be a people who are curious about Jesus?”  I am not talking about adding something to our day but more so inviting Jesus into our day and walking with Jesus throughout the day.

If you are here this morning, watching on line, and you don’t know how to read God’s Word then you need to ask for help.  I can sit down with you in 3 1-hour meetings and teach you how to read, understand, enjoy and apply God’s Word.

It’s possible you are here this morning and you are saying, “I am in Christ but I don’t see the power of Christ in my life.”  Listen to me, it’s possible you are in Christ but you don’t see the power of Christ because you are still trying to live for the culture of our day.  You are trying to use Jesus to help you climb the ladder of life and that will never work.

I remember as a young 20-year-old a pastor said to me, “You don’t want to climb the ladder of this world only to find out that your ladder was leaning against the wrong building.”  The ladder of this world doesn’t go anywhere.  Turn to Christ!

You need to repent.  You need to turn from the sin of trying to live for this world and live for Christ!  Stop playing with the toys of this world and live for Christ!  Stop giving into despair and turn to Christ!

This morning we are going to celebrate communion as a church family.  The body of Christ and the blood of Christ have been given to you by grace through faith, so that we might share in a meal with our brothers and sisters for eternity.

This meal is just a snapshot of what is to come.  This meal is just a sliver of what we will have with Christ and with one another for eternity, therefore, if you are in Christ then we ask you to come forward.  Our elders will be here at the front.  You will take the cracker and dip it in the juice and celebrate the life we have in Jesus.

But if you have yet to place your faith in Jesus then we ask you to hold off and consider, “What’s keeping you from trusting in Jesus today?” Jesus has you here to trust in Him and it isn’t because of your morality.  It isn’t because of your intellect.  He knows the worse things about you and He’s calling you to Himself but you must respond.  You must turn to Him.  Won’t you do that today?