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- The social ladder can be very important to people
Our Boast in Jesus
Date: 14-04-19 828 Echuca
- The social ladder can be very important to people
- We aim to be socially acceptable & to a fair degree that is the norm
- Look at the way we dress – last week, Mitchy came in a suit & tie – I felt very undressed
- But we do not come to church in our pyjamas, although, some in their haste to get to church, might have changed only minutes before
I remember back in 1982, I travelled with a group down from Qld to Melbourne & we visited my broth-in-laws grandparents.
Wow, when you go to their place, you realised that you had come to royalty – not really.
However, they were very fine and the table was set like we were dining at Buckingham Palace.
When Mike's grandfather, asked each of the guys that came, what they did for a living, the three of us felt very uncomfortable.
I was a carpenter, one of the other guys was a bee-keeper and the other was a radiator repairer.
Can you imagine the replies he got?
I was the carpenter, that somehow became a builder (mostly true); the bee-keeper said he was a farmer (partly true maybe); & the radiator repairer said he was a mechanic (sort of true – truish maybe).
What was so interesting as we looked around at each other was that we were trying to elevate our position in the eyes of this gentleman who seemed to be so far above us in class
- This is the tenor of what is happening in the Corinthian church
- Attempting to gain a social status in order to look good in the world & advance yourself in the eyes of others
- Of course, the problem that comes with trying to advance yourself is that to do it, you often pull, or try to pull, others down
- Like the time I was about 10 yrs old swimming with my sister at the Gympie pool in Qld
- I saw that she was in trouble & going under & I swam to her to try & help & you can guess what happened?
- She almost drowned me as she climbed up my waste to my chest, then to my head & before I knew it, I was the one drowning while she was well over the top with her head out of the water
- The story ends well with a grown up coming to rescue us
- Often, in elevating yourself, you pull others down around you
- You may not intend to, but if social elevation is what you are after, then like the nasty school girl gangs who look down on & pull down the other girls, then you will tend to pull others down so that you may rise up above them
- It, therefore, should not surprise us that in the Corinthian church, you have factions & divisions
—11 For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you.
An Example from Status
An Example from Status
- There is no better saying here than this: “The proof is in the pudding”
- Paul says to take a look at yourselves
If social status or eloquence in wisdom is the mark of acceptance with God, then what on earth was God doing when he picked you?
- Actually, Paul is not being that cutting, but the point is being made
- They were a mixture of different people – not at all socially high on the ladder, nor were they great orator's nor philosophers
- David Garland writes:
“The pivotal values were honor and shame.
People measured their lives by what a delimited group of others thought about them.
If someone was an ex-slave, these others could still see that person only as an ex-slave.
To compensate, many aspired to increase their social standing in a never-ending pursuit of social honor.
Boastful Corinthian Christians are no different from their pagan fellow citizens obsessed with exalting themselves and trying to leapfrog over others to attain honor and prominence.
Arrogance and contempt for others were at home in Corinthian society and seem to have a secure place in the church as well”.
Q. Do you see the phrase here – repeated often - “by worldly standards” - in the NASB, the phrase is... “according to the flesh”?
- In short, it means “according to the unregenerate of the world”, the unbelieving of the world – those who oppose God
- According to the world's standard, not many of you were wise, not many were powerful, not many were noble & yet, God chose you!!!
When Lady Huntington read this verse [v.26] she said, "Saved by an "m".
Paul did not say, "Not any", but "not many".
- God's values do not always align with the values of the world
- The philosopher Celsus [was trying to prevent people becoming Christians] in 178 AD mockingly wrote of Christians:
Let no cultured person draw near, none wise & none sensible, for all that kind of thing we count evil; but if any man is ignorant, if any man is wanting in sense and culture, if anyone is a fool, let him come boldly [in other words to be a Christian]... We see them in their own houses, wool dresses, cobblers, the worst, vulgarest, the most uneducated persons....
They are like a swarm of bats or ants creeping out of their nest, or frogs holding a symposium around a swamp, or worms convening in mud".
That may be his take on the measure of acceptance in the world, but is that the measure of acceptance with God? Indeed it is not!
2. Shame, Shame, Shame
- When we feel shame, our body temperature soars as embarrassment sets in
- Sometimes, it can be moral embarrassment after something we've done wrong &, at other times, it can be innocent embarrassment as in a person's silly dress code that your kids like to point out to you
- One particular example is the fact that I like to wear socks when I wear my crocks
- It was pointed out to me a few times that it looks silly – but I'm comfortable with socks in crocks – it's what we jokingly call it now - “socks in crocks”
- In a certain social setting, I suppose, it might not look too cool
- I admit, that I feel slightly uncomfortable, slightly embarrassed, now that it has been pointed out to me that it looks silly – but I still do it
- Shame goes with embarrassment & we have all felt shame, especially, when we have been caught out doing something socially unacceptable
- Shame is something that is usually just associated with our social setting
- But we can also feel shame before God when we have been disloyal to Him, disobedient to Him
- Adam & Eve felt shame when they discovered that they were naked & they decided to hide from God
- The apostle mentions shame twice in this passage
- It seems that the Corinthians, themselves, felt a certain shame about their social status, & they were always aiming to improve it by wanting to appear socially acceptable
- But these Christians have now got to come to terms with the fact that God also has values & those values put to shame the values of the world
- The world measures greatness by the standards of intelligence, wealth, prestige & position
- But God puts them at the bottom & the world's nobodies, become His somebodies
—25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.
26 “Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.
- Jesus spoke this on the back of His disappointment with the unrepentant attitudes of the populace & He spoke of the coming judgement on those cities who witnessed His miracles but never repented of their sin – never put their faith/trust in Him
- Since the world & its values have not gone God's way or have even sought after God, God has surprised the world by working in a way that seems all wrong to them
- The world's problem is that they either ignore God completely, even be hostile to Him, or they are happy to believe, but on their terms
- Their values put themselves at the top & put God underneath
- God must conform to the world's values if He is to be accepted
- Idolatry, which is what this is, will never be countenanced by God
- For mankind to come to Him, it must be on His terms
- After all, He is our maker, we did not make Him; He made us & therefore, owns us
- In ., God issues the call to come to Him to find life without cost
Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; And you who have no money come, buy and eat.
Come, buy wine and milk Without money and without cost.
- That is a wondrous offer, but an offer that comes with a challenge
—6 Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.
- The call here is to take the life that God offers on condition that you seek Him by forsaking you ways & your thoughts & by adopting His ways & His thoughts
- In our passage, today, we see that God's thoughts & God's ways are contrary to the world's thoughts & ways
- Here, God has chosen the foolish things of the world, to shame the wise
- He has chosen weak things, base things, the despised things of the world to nullify man's idolatrous nature
- No man, nor woman can stand before God & say that they are worthy, by virtue of their wisdom, or their social or political influence, or their pedigree (their nobility) to stand before God & stake a claim on everlasting life – will get them no where!
- None of these things can present us to God, because these things are the virtues of the world – a world that drives itself in the opposite direction to God
3. Our Boast Is in Our Lord Jesus Christ
- The message of the cross is a stumbling block to the Jews & madness to Gentiles
- But at the cross, God disgraced the world, by overturning their errant value system
- Verse 30, says “By His doing, you are in Christ Jesus”
- It is God who has chosen us & turned us to faith in Christ
- We know the shame of the cross – we feel it from those we know who don't believe in Christ
- We felt it too, but we believed in spite of our objections
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