Welcome along to St Augustine’s… I hope you’ve been warmly greeted by our regulars, and perhaps you will be able to stick around for a cuppa after the service.
Over this period in the church calendar called “Epiphany”, which refers to the appearing of the Lord, we are doing a series of sermons from 1 Corinthians 1-4. That will take us through until the end of February.
The passage we looked at last week was foundational for me as a young adult trying to understand the Christian message. It began with the words, “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”. I remember as a university student thinking how extraordinary that Paul actually used the words cross and foolishness in the same sentence. I’d always thought of the cross as being a concept requiring nothing but the deepest respect. And yet here is the Apostle Paul suggesting that there is a kind of foolishness attached to it if we apply only human wisdom: that it’s a really silly thing to worship a saviour who died so gruesomely and helplessly.
But hearing Paul on this changed my approach to faith. Where I had once shared my beliefs in the assumption that people would soon enough see that Christianity makes sense, I now realised that in fact Christianity does NOT make sense to the world. So when we speak of it to friends, family or neighbours, we should not expect them to simply say, “Oh right, I see… I will now logically become a Christian”.
That’s not how it works, and I am still coming to grips with the fact that when someone becomes a Christian it is not because they’ve seen the inherent human logic and sense to it. Rather, somehow God has revealed something to them of himself and his own great wisdom and power. The Christian has not “worked out” how to get to God, but has had the way to God revealed to him or her. And so salvation is a gift from God, and not a human achievement.
After all, what kind of salvation would it be if it were something we achieved! May God continue to bless us all with his own wisdom, pointing us to his power, that we may boast only in him.
In love, Mark