Today, I preached my a.m. sermon from 1 Cor. 4:8-13, understanding Paul to have been comparing the Corinthians lifestyle (pursuing wisdom according to the world) with the cruciform lifestyle as exemplified by Paul and the apostles. In the final verses, Paul states that the appropriate response to hardship is not to return evil for evil, but to respond as Christ would have, only possible if one has been crucified with Christ. Paul’s final words, recorded in v. 13, reveal how the world views those who live in cruciformity:
“We are, even now, like the world’s garbage, like the filth of all things” (HCSB).
In my closing comments (which serve to transition into the invitation) I lamented that it seems that many who profess to be believers and followers of Christ and fill countless pews Sunday after Sunday are no more than casual observers of the Christian faith. Perhaps they, like the Corinthians, found salvation in Christ, but have since found the allure of the world or the approval of society more appealing than the denial of one’s self and living for the glory of Christ. Consequently, the church becomes little more than a social gathering, a club of which they are now members.
I then spoke for a few minutes on the nature of the Christian life, arguing that following Christ has never been an easy thing (in terms of cultural approval). I live in an area where Christianity, or should I say “going to church,” is more the norm than not. But I reminded the congregation that being a disciple of Christ involves more than just showing up at church any given Sunday–being a disciple is the life of sacrifice.
I closed the sermon by stating that Jesus’ death was no invitation to receive “your best life now,” cozy up and be pals with Jesus, or any other such nonsense. The death of Christ and his invitation to follow him I summed up thusly: “Come and die.”
Matthew 16:24-25 – Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it. (HCSB)
Αυτω η δοξα,