Wednesday, April 1, 2020
1 Corinthians 1:3-17
Our upside down God. I have used that term throughout my ministry because so much of what we know about God stands in sharp contrast to how we think in human terms. Jesus often distinguishes between our ways and God’s ways.
This is a passage that Paul uses to describe how the gospel is upside down to what we think. The Corinthian church is struggling. The people have begun to divide themselves along the lines of who baptized them … in ways oddly reminiscent of how we align ourselves with our favorite sports teams based on location, where we went to college, or who we like playing on these teams. And Paul will have none of it.
He reminds them that the baptism all share is the baptism of Christ. More importantly, says Paul, is not who baptized whom, but how Christ was proclaimed. “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.”
Speaking for God is hard when people confuse the message with the messenger. Paul is clear that the only message proclaimed is the power of the cross … God’s act of solidarity with creation … and the power of the cross is the power to transform our world. God is made vulnerable in the cross as God, through Jesus, holds our suffering, dies our death, and invites us to the power of the resurrection that has overcome death. It is a message of weakness that confounds the powerful, and it is a symbol of poverty that supplants the greatest riches.
The pathway to a greater unity is counterintuitive. It requires that we speak the truth of the gospel … in love … and that we use, not our strength, but our weakness, as we proclaim the message of the cross to a world desperate for unity and hope.
In our vulnerability and weakness, O God, we proclaim the message of the cross. Restore the power of the cross in us today. Amen.