Wednesday, November 10, 2021
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ must remain the central focus of all that we are and all that we do. That is the conclusion drawn by Paul to the church at Corinth as he opens his letter to them.
1 Corinthians 1:17-18 “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
You may remember that this church was going through a lot of difficulties. One of the issues Paul addresses is the tendency church-goers have to be people-followers. There were divisions in the church because some people liked Apollos better than Paul or Peter, and some even were taking pride in the fact that they had stayed true to Jesus. They were arguing and bickering about who taught better, who led better, and who gave them the best spiritual benefits.
In addressing these divisions, Paul makes it clear that the following of any human wisdom diminishes the power of the cross in our personal lives and in the life of the church. When the focus and form of our teaching and preaching becomes self-centered rather than Christ-centered, we lose power.
Let me illustrate: once there was a professional football team that had incredible talent but couldn’t win the big games, primarily because the focus of the team was on an individual rather than the purpose of the team. It was so bad that free agents from other teams were refusing to even consider becoming a part of this team. Then it happened – the team changed its focus from the problems caused by an individual to the goal of accomplishing their purpose, and a huge change occurred. Weaknesses in the team were suddenly made strengths. Free agents from other teams were anxious to become a part of the organization. Franchise players from other teams are begging to be traded to this team. Why? Because the self-centered focus has been replaced with a team spirit based on a unified purpose.
That’s what must happen in a church. People must move from a self-centered, people-following, people-pleasing lifestyle to one of surrendered, sacrificial commitment to Christ and His purpose. When it does, people who are not part of the body of Christ yet will want to be. They will ask to join us, because that is the power of the cross.
We hear a lot today about the seeker-sensitive church, and one of the characteristics of such churches is a non-offensive presentation of the Gospel. I have a very serious question in that regard: How can the Gospel message of the cross of Christ be non-offensive to an unbeliever when Paul states here in today’s Scripture that the cross is considered foolishness to the unsaved, and in Galatians 5:11 he states that if he compromises the Gospel in any way the cross loses its offense to the unsaved?
So many churches today are avoiding the real issue of people’s lives by speaking only to the perceived or surface issues because they believe it will attract more people and offend fewer people. My friends, I do not wish to purposely offend anyone, but I most definitely will not offend my Lord and Savior by turning the church or the ministry to which He has called me into an effort of human wisdom. I will preach the cross of Jesus Christ, and those who respond will be transformed by the power of God and not by human reason. And they will respond, because the power of God will draw them to the place where their spiritual need can be truly met in Christ. Calvary is that place – the place of the cross. May Calvary the church represent its name well.