September 14, 2014
Bible Text: 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
A Foolish, Silly, Stupid Little Word really Does Save You
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN! Our text for this morning’s sermon is taken from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 1.
Beloved in the Lord,
Words Really do Hurt
Some of my favorite TV commercials are those Gieco commercials. Those commercials tell me things I didn’t know before. Not only can I save 15% on car insurance but I’ve also learned that
pinnochio is a bad motivational speaker,
Old McDonald was a really bad speller,
And Words really do hurt.
That last one gets me every time. The cowboy is riding off into the sunset and across the screen reads “The End” as the Cowboy literally rides into the letter E and is knocked off of his horse. Words really can hurt you. But unlike the other factoids Geico shares with us in their commercials, everyone really does already know that.
Words really can hurt you. We’ve heard them and we’ve said them, we’ve felt them. Words have power. And too often that power is used wrongly. “I hate you!” screams the teenager to her parents. “I wish you were never born” replies the parent. “I don’t love you anymore” says the man to his wife. Or “I’ve found someone else” says the wife to her husband. Words have power and that power can be, has been, used to hate.
But Words can hurt without malice. “You have cancer.” “Your daughter was in a car accident.” “Your son was injured in battle” These are words no person wants to hear but in our fallen world too many hear every day. Words really can hurt you. Words like these, whether born of hatred or brokenness strike the heart with the reality of our world and our life. And as these words pierce through to our soul we are led to search for a revelation from God, a word, a sign, an intervention, anything that can help us understand, help us through, help us move on. Thus God gives us the Word of the cross.
Actions not Words?
But the Word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. The Word of the cross is folly, silly, even stupid to those who don’t believe. After all, what good can a Word about a Jewish man dying on a tree do for me today? How can words like these save my marriage or bring my dad home? How can words so old heal my heart? And it’s not just “how can words in general do any good?” but more importantly it’s how can these Words do me any good. These words don’t make sense. These words talk about suffering and death. And resurrection? Whoever heard of such a thing? No one comes back from the dead. Dead means dead and nothing can change that.
Thinking ourselves wise, we foolishly think that we don’t need words. What we need is actions. “Actions speak louder than words.” Because actions got us into this mess we think actions should be able to get us out. In our wisdom we think actions are more powerful than words. We suppose that actions get things done. Actions do things, change things, exert power. We see that in our everyday lives. We feel it for better or for worse. And in our wisdom we think God should do the same, act the same.
And so we often hear “Deeds not creeds.” We apply the world’s wisdom to spirituality. If our actions caused this mess – which we have to admit, they did. Sin came into the world through one man and through one man all sinned and therefore all die. Yeah, our actions in Adam then and in us today did it and we know it. We feel it. We hear about it. So, if our actions did it, and if our actions are doing it, then what God wants is for us to change our actions! Stop doing it. Start making it better. That makes sense doesn’t it? Stop sinning and be nice. Just be nice to each other.
But in our wisdom we have become fools. We have become fools because we think ourselves too big and that our actions can make things better. And we think God is too small that He should use words to change the world. We think that if He doesn’t do great and mighty and magnificent and magnanimous and awesome deeds for us to see and feel, then He really isn’t doing anything special. He really isn’t doing anything worth our attention. He really isn’t doing anything good for us. That’s why so many stumble and chase after the wrong sorts of spiritualities. So many want to see and to feel rather than hear and believe. To them, seeing is believing and hearing is boring.
Through the Foolishness of Preaching
The Lord does not call you see and feel. He calls you to listen. “The Word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Jews seeks after signs and wonders. They want to see why they should believe in Jesus. Greeks seek after wisdom because they want everything to make sense. Sometimes you want signs. Sometimes you want to make sense of things. Sometimes you want to see. Sometimes you want to understand. But God gives us the Word of the Cross. Through preaching God changes things. Preaching the Word of the Cross changes things, changes people, changes you if you believe it. This Word of the cross is the Word made flesh for you. This Word of the Cross is the Word who dwelt among us. He came to His own but His own preferred signs and wonders. He came unto the world, but the world wanted to be bigger than God. And so His own rejected Him and the Gentiles crucified Him. The Word of the Cross is God crucified. This fleshly Word, this crucified Word, this Word who suffered under Pontius Pilate was crucified dead and buried, is God’s Word for you to receive today, tomorrow, and forevermore. This Word offered Himself for your actions, your hatred, your hurts, your sin, and your death. This Word is a mighty Word, so mighty that even in weakness, even in death, He forgives. “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
It is not a mighty deed which the Lord gives for us to see and to experience and to feel in order for us to have it as our own, in order to make it “real” for us. No! The Lord gives us His Word, the Word made flesh. The Word crucified. The Word dead and buried. The Word resurrected on the third day. Through the preaching of this Word to the nations God gives His Heart into the ears of the peoples. Through this Word this morning God is giving His Heart into your ears this morning. I know, its sounds crazy. It sounds ridiculous. It doesn’t make sense that God would do such a thing, suffer the way Jesus did, and then rise on the third day. It doesn’t make sense that Words like these have the power to save, forgive, renew, and resurrect. But this is the Word God has given. And through this Word the wisdom of the world is undone. Through this word the mouths of debaters are stopped up. Through this Word of the cross the one who would accuse you is silenced forever.
Words work God’s Actions
Without the Word of the Cross Christianity ceases to exist. No matter how pious the actions of her members, without the Word of the Cross there is no faith. Faith in Christ is borne out of the preaching of the Word of the cross. “Faith comes from hearing and hearing the message of Christ.” Faith does not come from doing. Forgiveness of sins is not earned. Salvation is not a work for us to accomplish. Therefore the Word of the cross is not only central but foundational for anyone who would be called Christian. The Word of the cross is not only central but foundational for you. God wants all men, women, and children, to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth as revealed in His Word. God wants you and your families to be saved through the power of His Word. How do I know this? I hear about it in God’s Word. How do I know God means me? The Word of the cross is actually preached to me. The bible says, “God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish have everlasting life. I’m part of this world. You’re part of this World. Therefore God means me and God means you. There is no one left out. No one God doesn’t want to save. In hearing the Word of the Cross I am hearing God Himself tell me of His great love for me and all people. In hearing the Word of the Cross I am hearing of the great length to which God Himself went in order to win my salvation. I am hearing what was necessary for God to forgive me of my sins, defeat my death, and assure me of the resurrection of my body on the last day. In the Word of the Cross I am hearing God’s heart for me. I am hearing powerful words, words that do things for me, words that do things to me, Holy Words that change things, Holy Words that change me.
The Word of the Cross really Does God’s things
Beloved in the Lord, we already know that words really can hurt. We don’t have to ride off into the sunset only to hit our heads in the end. Words really do have power. The word of the cross has power. And this power is not manifested in hate but is the manifestation of God’s love for you. His Word really does holy things for you and to you. And His Word is here for you this morning. Through the Word of the cross those hurtful words we’ve felt and spoken are forgiven. Through the Word the Lord God is able to share Himself with you, wash you of your sins, comfort you in your hurts, strengthen you in your trials, encourage you when you’re down, and give you hope when the brokenness of this world imposes on us. Through the Word of the cross the love of God is proclaimed. Therefore beloved, lift high the cross! Take this word to heart. Believe it for yourself and allow the love of God to be ring out in your life through your actions. Hear the Word. Believe the Word. Receive the Word, and then speak the Word! The Word of the cross is the power of God and the wisdom of God for you and for the world. AMEN!
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus. AMEN!