Summary: Don’t let the mystery and the power of the cross ever be substituted for anything less. Not the law, not wisdom - just the power of the cross.
Title: How to not love God
Text: 1 Cor 1:17 – 31
MP: As unreasonable as it is, the cross is still more powerful than any sign or logic
It’s always dangerous to use a Monty Python sketch to bring out the truth of a Scripture, but in this case, you’ll see, the shoe fits. But, seeing as this morning, my aim is to show you two ways by which you won’t find God, in order that I might hope to point out where is, maybe I’m on safer ground.
In the movie, The Life of Brian, the Monty Pythons make an entire movie out of the premise of following someone who most definitely is not the Christ. Oh, he may have been born in Bethlehem, and at the end of the movie, he will in fact be put to death on a cross, all the while singing, “Always Look on the bright side of life,” but make no mistake, Brian is nothing but a man who is mistaken for a Messiah. Still, in between those two points, people looking to make a Messiah out of their own desires will turn Brian into their Messiah.
At one point, eager to escape the crowds that would make him king, Brian runs away so fast that he loses his shoe. The crowd running after him stops and seizes upon the forsaken sandal. Immediately the crowd divides into two groups.
The leader of the first takes the sandal and loudly praises the shoe. “Behold, the sacred sandal. We shall worship this sign of our Messiah!” But the more learned logicians in the crowd disagree. “No, this isn’t a relic,” they say. “Rather, it is a sign for us to follow. Like Brian, we too must shoeless and go barefoot as he.” Thus begins the first and most lasting schism in the church of Brian.
Obviously there is no implication that similar disputes are the cause of division in the real church. No, after all, churches are way too sophisticated to argue over shoes. The color of the carpet? Well, that’s a different issue. But we would never let silly things like that divide us, eh? Let me also suggest that there are good and serious reasons to argue. Division from sin is a necessary thing.
Oddly enough, the Pythons seem to have hit exactly on our text this morning. Paul is addressing a divided Corinthian Church. In the coming weeks, we’ll be learning more about this little country church by the sea, but this morning I want to focus on the different ways that people think we should find God. Both sides are convinced of their method in understanding how you would know God. Both have precedent on their side. Both sides even make sense. But sadly, like the sandal, I think both sides really miss the point.
Paul is being straight up about what world thinks of us. He knows that both sides think we’ve missed the point. You will notice in the clip I showed you, nobody seemed to get it. But that’s normal, Paul is saying – the Gospel is veiled to those who are perishing. If you get it right, it is going to seem like foolishness.
But, the power of cross revels in that foolishness. It overcomes a foolish world. Think about it for a minute – we know this world is backwards. We know that we live in a world where people made in the image of God abuse each other, hate each other, and kill each other. If people made in the image of God do not live in the power of God, why should anything make sense to them?
Have you ever tried to precisely cut off a hair while looking in a mirror? You know that when everything is backwards, you almost have to disbelieve the mirror to get the scissors where they need to go. If everything is backwards, going in the right direction seem unnatural. So to it is with the power of the cross. In a world focused on doing the right thing or understanding how it’s all supposed to work, believing that your salvation is dependent solely on the love of one person – Jesus Christ – that’s foolishness.
But that’s foolishness that’s right. That’s the foolishness that will save you.
I want to look at what’s really foolishness for a moment.
On the one hand, it is very easy to become enamored with our own idols. We can worship the outwards trappings of Christ. We can easily fall into worshiping his rules. We can easily fall into worshipping his house or his people. We can worship just about everything around Christ, but fail to worship Christ.
Look with me at verses 22, 23, 24 for minute. He has some parallel talk going on here, so I want to put in order for a second. You’ll notice he says, “Jews demand signs,” but we preach Christ crucified – and for the Jews, that’s a stumbling block. Christ crucified is the power of God! But they want Signs.