Thursday after the Sixth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:10-31 (NKJV)
1:10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption—31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”
Far more than creativity or eloquence, what must be valued in preachers of the Word is their saying of the same thing, having a single understanding, expressed in the same judgment. The same is true of the laity: it is not the magnitude of their good works, but their agreement with God’s Word that is to be kept primary. From such unity in the truth works truly follow. But works that come from ignoring God’s Word do not produce unity, even if they falsely appear to do so. As many have feared from the advent of radio, through TV, to the rise of internet ‘blogs’ and podcasts, and now live streaming, ‘superstar’ preachers arise—often, because they scratch people’s itching ears (2 Tim. 4:3). Only Christ is to be ‘the attraction,’ and sometimes the ‘worst preacher’ is best at keeping Him so!
As he rejoiced at the thorn in his flesh keeping him from being overly glorified (2 Cor. 12), St. Paul is glad that he baptized hardly anyone, lest there arise some cult of the baptized-better-than-you, making the cross of no effect. All the wisdom and eloquence of the world—and all the superficial attraction of the personality, etc., of preachers—is passing away. Only the message that is foolishness and a sticking point to the world—that God the Son offered Himself to be punished for you after living a perfect life in your place—is the true wisdom and strength that endures. It is not the preaching as a separate thing, but the “foolish” message preached that saves.
Prayer: O, Holy Spirit, help us glory only in the message of Christ’s cross, valuing pastors and parishes on the right basis: faithfulness to the wisdom that saves. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.