Summary: A sermon about the wisdom and power of the Cross.
"Look What God Chose"
There's an old story about a woman named Ruby Turpin.
Ruby was obsessed with status and class.
In the story, Ruby was in a doctor's waiting room, sizing up everyone there in the room according to their class.
In fact, at night Ruby would spend her time naming the classes of people and putting certain persons into different categories.
On the bottom of her list were poor black people and those she termed "white trash."
Above these folks were homeowners such as Ruby and her husband Claude.
And on the top of the class list were people with lots of money and much bigger homes.
Ruby used to get frustrated by her rankings because she was aware that, in her mind, some of the people she knew who had lots of money were actually "very common and ought to be below she and Claude."
So, Ruby Turpin was meditating--out loud-- about these things in that doctor's waiting room.
And there happened to be a college student sitting in the waiting room reading a book entitled "human development."
And this college student had gotten to the point where she had all she could stand of Ruby Turpin's judgments about people.
So she hurled the book across the room, hitting Ruby Turpin just above her left eye, and then she began to strangle her, saying, "Go back to hell where you came from, you old warthog!"
It's been suggested that the Apostle Paul's words to the people of Corinth are no less jolting than being hit between the eyes by a book on human development!!!
And this is because Paul reminds us about the foolishness of the Gospel, which has, at its heart--A Crucified Savior!!!
And crucifixion was more than just a state-sponsored style of execution.
Crucifixion was the most shameful and demeaning way to die.
There you were, naked, nailed to wooden planks for the entire world to see and scoff at with birds picking at your flesh and dogs waiting at the bottom to eat your dead body.
It may very well have been embarrassing to some of the early Christians to know and realize that the "Lord" they worshipped had been killed by being crucified.
That was a death reserved for the lowest of the low.
It was horrible...
It was done to the lowliest of criminals, the hated, the despised...
...the losers in life.
And it was done to Jesus Christ!!!
And so 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."
Why would Paul feel the need to write these words to the Church in Corinth?
Shouldn't they already know this?
Did they need to be reminded?
What was going on?
Well, we need to back up a little bit in order to get our clue.
In 1 Corinthians 1:10 Paul writes: "brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Agree with each other and don't be divided into rival groups.
Instead, be restored with the same mind and the same purpose."
He goes on to say that he has heard from some of the Christians there that the Church is "fighting with each other."
And what are they fighting about?
Well, there seems to be some kind of "class warfare" going on.
He says, "don't be divided into rival groups."
I've gotten word that "you're fighting with each other.
What I mean is this: that each one of you says, 'I belong to Paul,' 'I belong to Apollos,' 'I belong to Cephas,'...
...Has Christ been divided?
Was Paul crucified for you?"
Last week I was sitting with several colleagues, and we got talking about different Christian denominations.
And it was pretty much agreed that we all seem to think we are right.
The Baptists think they are right, the Pentecostals think they are right, and so on.
Then, one of us piped up and said, "I'm glad that we are United Methodists. Because as United Methodist's we allow for differences of opinion about certain things."
Then I, jokingly said, "And that makes us right and everyone else wrong."
In any event, as we can see in 1 Corinthians divisions in the Church are nothing new.
Although it is a sad fact.
There is a story about a wealthy early colonial Virginian who asked his Anglican priest if it was possible to find salvation outside of the Church of England.
The priest wrestled with this question, because he knew it was within the realm of possibility that people who were not Anglican could go to heaven, but he didn't want his socially elite church member to be socializing with what he considered "Christian riffraff" of all sorts.