Summary: In God’s eyes, there is no such thing as a mere man.
Title: A Mere Man?
Text: 1 Cor 3:1 – 9
MP: In God’s eyes, there is no such thing as a mere man
As summer begins to wind down, I don’t know about you, but I find it so hard to concentrate – to keep my focus.
I can tell you that in my other job right now, work that is usually overflowing and abundant is drying up just a little bit, and that gets me out of sorts. In my office, that is causing a lot of us to get just a little bit stir crazy. We’re fighting more. Petty jealousies and minor strifes are poking their heads above the surface, as we realize far too well how “everybody else” in the office is oh, so human.
There’s an old joke in some circles that says “the fighting is so fierce because the stakes are so low.” When summer hits like that, it is time to refocus on what things should be, and not what they are.
Indeed, it is easy to mentally check out. To be slumming. But it is precisely in these doldrums that we most face the question, “What are we really going to be?” We truly have a choice. As children of God, heirs of the King, we are God’s field, his Temple. We are Mr. Jesus’ Opus! We are glorious saved and redeemed beings whom God has made just a little lower than the angels.
And yet, it so easy to be ‘mere human beings.’ Simple anthropos – little men.
This morning, if we would choose to live as the children of God we desire to be, I want to briefly suggest that we need to focus. Paul is going to point out that where we focus is what we are going to be. Specifically, I want to get our focus straight by focusing on:
(1) What we are,
(2) What we are destined for, and
(3) Who made us that way.
Focus on what we are
I want you notice first of all that Paul finds it worthwhile to focus on our current condition. He’d like to talk to us as spiritual beings. Unfortunately, he can’t. He is all too mindful of the fact that his church is full of infants. Babes in Christ.
Babies, as any parent at 3 in the morning can tell you, have only one word: “Waaaaaa!” Look at me! Care for me! It’s all about me, he says.
When our focus is on ourselves, we naturally think about ourselves. But what we miss out on is our full self. It is too easy to lose sight of all that we really are.
You know, if you go to Athens, smack dab in the middle of town on the highest hill, you are going to see the Parthenon. It’s a beautiful Temple. The Ancient Greeks used every architectural trick in the book to make it the perfect building. Just to give you an idea of how perfect they made these things, just look at the columns. The tops of the columns are just a little bit smaller than the bottom, in order to trick the eye into thinking they are perfectly straight all the way up. The most beautiful artwork was front and center on the pediment, higher than the eye could see- unless if you strained to look up. The building was a masterpiece any way you cut.
While the Greeks are slowly restoring it, if you look at it today, you will see a lot of that Temple in pieces on the ground. Most visitors assuming that it’s just age that has taken its toll. But if you had visited the Parthenon in early September 1687, you would have found the Temple almost completely intact.
You see, in 1687, Venice was invading what was then Turkish controlled Greece. Tourists today look at the Parthenon and see the earliest vestiges of Western Civilization. The Turks looked at the Temple, and all they could see was a solid building well suited to holding – get this – gunpowder. The most glorious building of ancient antiquity, and they were focusing solely on its position and its volume.
On September 28th, 1687, the Venetian soldiers looked at this same building – the very symbol of good governance and Greek civilization that was their heritage too. And you know what they saw? A munitions depot. One volley ignited the gunpowder inside – and seconds destroyed what had stood for over 2000 years.
At the time, the soldiers cheered. They had won their limited objective. They came in and looted the temple, cutting up solid blocks as souvenirs. Anytime you limit your focus, you will lose sight of the whole. You can end up losing a lot.
Anytime we see other human beings as nothing more than objects, people to do our will, we’re doing the same thing. When the clerk in the store is rude or inept, I find it so easy to want to rip into them right then and there. But you know what? As a child of God, I suspect I have a pretty good chance of knowing this person for all eternity. Fifteen thousand million years down the road, I will probably still remember our first encounter. Puts a different spin on it, doesn’t it?