Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Little Engines that Can

1 Corinthians 4:20, NRSV, “For the kingdom of God depends not on talk but on power.”

Doesn’t that sound like an awesome audio clip? I truly love Paul. He follows this statement by saying, “What would you prefer? Am I to come to you with a stick, or with love in a spirit of gentleness? (1 Corinthians 4:21, NRSV)”

My translation (which is nothing like I learned in seminary), “Don’t make me come over there. I have a stick and I know how to use it.” I think that this verse can be quoted on a regular basis in every home in America. Children could learn scripture instead of random disciplinary tools.

Unfortunately, the church of Corinth is just like us. Even then, people just loved to belong to a club. They wanted to say that they belonged to the coolest church, with the biggest events and the best door prize. My cousin was telling me about a church that gave away IPods as door prizes to youth. I know, right?

Well, the Greeks belonged to their knowledge, and this is why Paul writes about this empty talking going on. They were too knowledgeable to adhere to the gospel. The Corinthian converts belonged to the people that baptized them, and this was causing a stink. I guess wanting to belong is natural. The Corinthians made their own cliques, complete with t-shirts. Now we meet in sports domes.

Well, Paul was not having any of it. Chapters 1-4, are essentially getting them to acknowledge that they all belong to Jesus. What the world says about wisdom is, well, foolishness.

Jesus is the focus, He still is. So, how do we keep that in mind as we carry on in our small ways, and all that we see around us is bigger and more intimidating?

The Power is in the Cross, Not in Us: What did Paul say in 1 Corinthians 1:17? “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power.”

That’s right…that is what he said. Paul was well aware of what he sounded like. He even said that he came to the Corinthians in fear and trembling. Now that is someone I can relate to! I can’t tell you of anything God has told me to do that did not cause fear and trembling. I did it, but sometimes I thought that I would die in the process.

I am not naturally courageous. I do not have eloquent wisdom. I am not running the church with the IPod giveaway. I am small and insignificant, but I am willing. I am even willing to be uncomfortable. In ministry, I often feel like the little engine that could. The trick might be having more little engines out there.

The Spirit Works Through Us: Looking at our first verse (1 Corinthians 4:20). I really wanted for that to mean, “walk the walk”, but it doesn’t. 1 Corinthians 2:4 & 5, explains it, “My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom,  but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.”

My words amount to nothing, but the kingdom DEPENDS on this power. All that we are at the very center should be power. Sounds good, right? We all have the power of the Spirit at our very core. We should redefine our bodily constitution by saying that we are mostly water, but all Spirit. I hope that I am the first one to say that…probably not.

What does this mean for us? Be courageous. Be uncomfortable. We belong to Jesus. We are entirely an offering to the Spirit, “who searches everything, even the depths of God (1 Corinthians 2:10, NRSV)”. Are you willing to take ourselves out of the picture? Are you willing to be uncomfortable?

I have come to find out that we, as women, are much more alike than different. I, also, know that God has a specific purpose for each of us. This is why we must see that no matter how we feel, we are no longer ourselves, but Christ living through us. Let’s strive to accomplish His purpose in us, with all of our weaknesses. Be brave, ladies!

Father, thank you for making us complete, in the way that only we can serve you. Make your purpose clear in us, today. Let us serve you, Jesus, and only you.

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