“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”1Corinthians 2:2
Over the years I have mentioned to my wife Linda that we need to have “situational awareness.” Situational awareness simply means, “knowing what is going on around us.” Case in point: A father walks into his teenage son’s bedroom and trips over a pair of hockey skates laying on the floor in the middle of the room. The father was so intent on speaking to his son that he didn’t realize that his son’s bedroom was filled with all sorts of traps just waiting for someone to walk into them. Had the father been more aware of his surroundings he may have kept himself from tripping over the skates.
I believe we all have been there at one time or another. Not too long ago I was working in our detached garage and I wasn’t paying attention and I walked into the side of our snowblower (how do you miss a snowblower) and ended up with a silver dollar size black and blue mark on my right thigh. I was so focused on what I was going after I didn’t see the snowblower, knowing fully well that I was the one who put it there. Talk about serious tunnel vision!
Yet, when it comes to the message of the saints, I believe we need a little more tunnel vision, a little more focus on who is most important in our life. As you begin to read 1 Corinthians 2 it doesn’t take us long to figure out what was most important to the Apostle Paul. Now, to be perfectly clear as I head down this rabbit trail, I do not think for a moment that Paul was espousing a form of Christian anti-intellectualism, perish that thought right now. We all understand that Paul was acquainted with the Greek quest for knowledge and wisdom (Acts 17:17), yet at the same time his focus was not on teaching the Corinthians methodologies which the Athenian thinkers had adopted or the humanistic philosopher had espoused, but on the central message of the cross, that is, “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
But the question should be asked; Is Paul’s message of the cross also the message of the saints? It is my belief that it is. Paul also wrote in this letter to the Corinthians, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ,” (1Cor.11:1) So it is, I see his focus on the message of the cross to be our message too.
Now, at no time would I suggest to you that there is no need of situational awareness. As we look at current events in light of world history, we need to be aware that history often repeats itself and we are all part of history or in the process of becoming history. Sorry, no pun intended. But the reality is that the crucified Christ is not just another message, another philosophical approach to the ills of this world, but the only remedy for man’s biggest problem—sin.
Paul’s argument was not that education, thinking, studying, and knowledge were to be secondary to the cross of Christ, but that he did not present the gospel according to the world’s wisdom. That instead of employing logic and keen rhetoric, he focused his attention on the central message of Christ’s death on the cross.
Contrary to those who had divided the Corinthian church on the basis of human arrogance and eloquence, Paul had simply announced the testimony about God. He had testified to what God had done in Christ.
Richard L. Pratt Jr. writes, “The crucifixion as the way of salvation was the most offensive dimension of the gospel, and it opposed the human arrogance of Jews and Gentiles. But it was nevertheless the power of God for salvation.” Two thousand years later the message of the crucified Christ is still offensive to those who don’t know Him. And at this very moment the majority of mankind are still working hard at fixing man’s problems, while at the same time ignoring the root of the problem and its only remedy.
No, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I want us to remember that, as much as we need to have situational awareness, we need to have tunnel vision when it comes to the message of the saints. Hypothetically speaking, I wonder what would happen if all the saints in every local evangelical church across America would share with one person this week the message of the cross? Would the Holy Spirit use the message of the cross? If I say no, I am sure you would want my removal from ministry at First Baptist. Yet, my silence and others like me speaks volumes to what I really believe concerning the message of the saints.
So it is, I need spiritual tunnel vision, I need to focus so much on the message of the cross of Christ that I start tripping over all the wisdom and logic of this world and I fall flat on my face so hard that the only One who can pick me up and dust me off is Jesus Christ and Him crucified. My focus needs to be so narrow, so determined that tripping over worldly ways and methods becomes a daily encounter, that by the end of the year you will wonder if I have any other message, any other focus, any other purpose for my measly existence. Are there risks involved in focusing on the message of the cross as the message of the saints? Absolutely! I risk being called stupid, ignorant, uninformed, uneducated in light of those of the world who are informed, broad minded, tolerant, sophisticated, dare I say, cultured. Now, a more compromising Saint would say, “Why can’t we be both? You can, but in the end it will always come down to the message of the cross, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, nailed to a piece of wood, dying a criminal’s death for your sin and mine.
The message of the saints is the message of the cross—by its very nature it is narrow, spoken by people who have serious tunnel vision. The message of the cross—our message—will make us trip over all the obstacles the world will place in our way. We will tumble over the world’s ability to outshout us, out think us, outsmart us. But like the running back tripping over his feet running with the football in the end zone, we too will score with the message because it is not about us but about Him, not about our command of languages, but about His purpose, His power.
So go into the room with your eyes fixed on the message, go tripping, stumbling, falling but go! Let the message of the cross do what it has done for over 2000 years win people to Christ. Let the message of the cross be the message of the saints.
This is Pastor Pat FROM BEHIND THE PEN—wishing you Joy in Jesus!