Sunday, January 5, 2014

Foolish boasting

Today church was cancelled.  So we studied 2 Corinthians 11 at home, because it would have been our sermon text, had there been church.

We were struck by the message of this chapter.

For if someone comes to you 
and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, 
or if you receive a different spirit 
from the one you received, 
or a different gospel from the one you accepted, 
you put up with it easily enough.
2 Corinthians 11:4 (NIV)

The Corinthians were a lot like us Americans.  They focused on things like success, money, eloquence, influence and power.  False apostles had an easy time leading the Corinthian church astray by appealing to their humanistic and materialistic tendencies.

We do that a great deal of the time as well.  We try to attract people to church by telling them:
  • God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.
  • God will help you get your life on track.  
  • God will fix your relationships.
  • God will bless your finances.
  • Christian people are the people to be.  We are the coolest, hippest, most happening guys around, and you want to be part of us... so how about you join our church and become a tithing member?
Paul spoke about how he had never been a financial burden to the Corinthians in verses 7-9.  I think he was probably contrasting his non-materialistic approach to the mercenary approach of the false apostles, criticizing the Corinthians for being so quick to follow men who were obviously acting in self-interest--fleecing them--rather than serving them selflessly in love as Paul had.

Human nature boasts in financial achievement, high positions, fancy vacations, designer clothing, fame, power and dominance.  Paul had already addressed this issue with the Corinthians, reminding them:

But God chose 
the foolish things of the world to shame the wise;
God chose
the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
He chose
the lowly things of this world and the despised things
--and the things that are not--
to nullify the things that are,
so that no one may boast before Him.
1 Corinthians 1:27-29 (NIV)

God is not about aggrandizing humanity.

God is about teaching us to be humble so He can display His power through us, and so when this happens, people will not be confused about where the glory comes from.  It comes from Him.

Jesus set the pattern for this (read Philippians 2, and also Isaiah 53:2-3).

Jesus did not come to be the coolest guy around, nor to attract all kinds of other cool people to His gang so they could all be cool together.  (Or boss or fly or whatever word is used for "cool" these days.)

Jesus came to teach us the way to the Father, and the way to the Father is the narrow way, the way of self denial, the way of humility and shame and persecution.

If I must boast,
I will boast about the things 
that show my weakness.
2 Corinthians 11:30

Paul wants us to know:  it is not about us.  It is about Jesus.

It is not about what we can do; it is about what He can do.

To the unenlightened, this kind of boasting seems foolish,
but to the enlightened, the boasting of worldly successes looks foolish.
And such is the paradox of the gospel.

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