Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Preparing for Sunday -- I believe in Jesus Christ . . . who suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified dead and buried.

In the center of the creed, we find the central claims by which the entire creed is understood. Without the claims about Jesus, we would be just another sect of Judaism. Yet the Christian faith has claimed form the beginning that because of Jesus—because of who Jesus was and what Jesus did—the world has been radically changed! Last week, we discussed the radical notion that God—almighty maker of heaven and earth—would chose to let go of glory, take on flesh, and dwell in our midst. This week we explore the even more scandalous notion, the God in Jesus died for us and in that death he defeated sin, death, and evil!
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
(1 Corinthians 1:18-25 NRSV)
For those of us who spend a lot of time in church, the idea that Jesus died for us on the cross is just assumed. We talk about, sing about, and read about. Driving down the road reading billboards and church signs, one would get the impression that all you have to do is show a person a cross or declare that there is power in the blood and folks would flock to your church. Yet, Paul declares the cross foolishness. What happens to our faith when we lose the sense of the foolishness of the cross?

• Paul says that the message of the cross is foolishness to the perishing and the power of God to the “us who are being saved” (see also 1 Cor 15:2 and 2 Cor 2:15)? We often talk about people as “saved” or “unsaved” but Paul doesn’t use those terms. What does Paul’s use of the phrase “being saved” say about salvation? What does the phrase “those who are perishing” say about those who do not believe?

• By the foolishness of the cross, God defeated sin, death, and evil. As followers of Christ, we have been called to “take up our cross and follow.” What does that mean for those who claim to survey the wondrous cross and seen a love so amazing that it demands our souls, our lives, our all?

See you on Sunday!

Image Cruxifiction at Barton Creek Mall by James B. Janknegt

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