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Summary: A sermon about the wisdom and power of God.

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1 Corinthians 1:18-31

“I Want to Be Somebody”

I just want to “be somebody” cries the burned out, workaholic father who comes home so tired and frustrated each night he has little energy for his wife and kids.

I just want to “be somebody” bemoans the teenager who thinks that fame and celebrity will be the “ticket out” of her misery.

There is wisdom in this kind of thinking.

There is power in having folks look up to you.

There is wisdom and there is power…

There is God’s wisdom and there is human wisdom.

There is God’s power and there is human power.

And the two really are polar opposites.

The wisdom and power of humankind is a sort of form without substance.

It seeks power over others, and it exploits other people in order to get it.

Then, there is God’s way.

God’s wisdom is bewildering to those who “are being destroyed.”

Because God’s wisdom empowers those considered weak, useless, ugly and ignorant.

The power of God is made perfect in weakness.

It’s not competitive.

It’s not selfish.

It’s not driven by ego.

It is that which builds the Kingdom of God!!!

And the power and the wisdom of God is seen or has been made manifest in Jesus Christ!!!

For many, the scandal of the Cross is offensive, bewildering, foolish.

Jesus, was crucified; He emptied Himself of all status and power!

And yet—and this is key—what looked like death was really LIFE!!!

The Good News about Christ is all about God dying on a rubbish-heap at the wrong end of town.

It’s about God speaking, what seems to be nonsense, to a room full of philosophers.

It’s about the ONE TRUE GOD confronting a world which is posturing for power and prestige and overthrowing it in order to set up a Kingdom in which the weak and the foolish find themselves just as welcome as the so-called strong and wise.

Think back to Jesus Himself, and the people who were His closest companions.

Were they not the outcastes, the marginalized, the nobodies, the despised, the sinners, the weak?

Yes, in our Scripture Lesson for this evening, Paul writes, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed. But it is the power of God for those of us who are being saved.”

How can that be?

There’s a sad story about a very successful politician, who, when he got to be in his late seventies, realizing he was becoming physically frail, decided to leave office.

But in a remark to a colleague, he showed his real fear…

… “Having been somebody,” he said,

“I shall now be nobody.”

Wow!

If that is how fleeting human and worldly accomplishments are…

…is it any wonder that Paul can so confidently write that “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength”?

I suppose we could say that the world is full of “somebodies” and “nobodies,” but these titles or situations do neither of the groups much good!!!

Because every human being—man, woman and child bears the image and likeness of God…

…and therefore no one has more or less dignity than anyone else!!!

We are all of equal importance—whether some other people have heard of us, look up to us or think we are somehow more special than others.

But, the “cult of fame” has really reached some monstrous proportions, has it not?

It seems that everyone wants to be “somebody,” and very few folks really know what that means.

I mean, think of the absurd stuff that the media produces where many people are now famous for being famous!!!

We know their names, we recognize their faces, but we can’t remember whether they are sports stars, movie stars, rock stars, pop stars, super models or none of the above!!!

And what good is it?

Corinth was a proud Roman city.

It was the kind of place where people would look up to the “somebodies” and try their best to be like them.

And then, as is the case now, there were many of the obvious ways that people became famous.

There was political power, inherited wealth, and royal or noble birth.

And also, Corinth paid special attention to the people who could speak well.

They had their public orators…

…kind of like our “talking heads” we see daily on the news shows on CNN and Fox News—the spin-meisters…the king makers…the know-it-alls…the people who tell us how to think and vote.

The wise, the powerful, the noble: these were the “somebodies” in Corinth.

And Paul reminds the members of the Christian Church in Corinth that most of them were considered by the world to be “nobodies” when Paul first came to town and preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ as Lord, and they believed it.

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