Updated: Jun 10, 2020
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
26 For example, consider your call, brothers. Not many of you were wise from a human point of view, not many were powerful, and not many were born with high status. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to put to shame those who are wise. God chose the weak things of the world to put to shame the things that are strong, 28 and God chose the lowly things of the world and the despised things, and the things that are not, to do away with the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before God. 30 But because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us the wisdom from God, namely, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. 31 God did this so that, just as it is written, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Wow, what a perfect day. It’s been a perfect week. And you know what: it’s been the perfect year so far. But has it really? Maybe we throw that word “perfect” around a bit too easily. Aaron Rodgers is the perfect quarterback. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great player. But perfect? When we go out to eat and have a fantastic meal, was it really perfect? When we spend the day outside and it’s 76.4 degrees with a gentle but slightly warm breeze, was it really the perfect weather? Was it really the perfect movie, perfect house, perfect book, perfect nap, perfect snack? I mean, perfect is really meant for a standard of excellence that can’t be achieved. Not by us. Not in this world. A lot of things can be great. We can do some pretty wonderful things and experience some amazing events. But perfect we are not. I guarantee it. Because there is only one who is perfect. The rest of us? Well…let’s just say that we miss the mark.
“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.” (1 Corinthians 1:26) I like how Paul doesn’t pull punches. By all conceivable human and earthly standards you were worthless. We were “the foolish things…the weak things…the lowly and despised things…the things that are not” (1 Corinthians 1:27-28) No Paul: don’t hold back. Tell us how you really feel. According to Paul, you weren’t worth much. In the big world you’re small potatoes. Even if you had great grades in school. Even if you were the best athlete in high school. Even if you have a powerful job, lots of money, tons of friends: in the bigger scheme of this world, you’re really not that great. No reason to brag. No reason to boast about ourselves. Thanks Pastor. You’re really encouraging us today. But let’s set aside our earthly success and achievements. We have a bigger problem than being nobodies, because in God’s eyes we were worthless. Ouch. We like to think of ourselves as good people: kind, compassionate, and loving. But look at how often we sin! Does that make us good people? When we daily struggle with temptation; when we can’t go even a few minutes without a sinful thought, can we really think that we deserve any praise for our own goodness? Because when it comes right down to it we were rebels. We didn’t want to obey God. We wanted to do our own thing. We wanted to rewrite what the definition of “good” is. When it comes right down to it God is clear. We weren’t worth a thing because we were sinners.
The world hates to hear that. They don’t want to be called bad. They don’t want to hear that their actions, their words, their way of life is wrong. And we understand that because we don’t like to be called bad either. Who would? God has a high standard for us. He demands perfection. He demands nothing short of complete obedience and fulfillment of his will. We look at the Law and realize that it’s a long lists of demands of things that we aren’t. And it’s a long list of warnings that we ignore on a regular basis. The Law is God’s standard of perfection. But that’s not us. And it makes us feel uncomfortable. We as individuals have a need to feel important, validated, worthy. Being called a sinner is not a message that anyone wants to hear. But we need to. We need to know that perfection is not something we can reach. We need to hear that because of our sins we have fallen embarrassingly short of the mark. And so, brothers and sisters in Christ, I’m going to say something that is going to hurt. It’s the absolute truth: you have no reason to brag, no reason to boast, no reason to pat yourself on the back. You are a sinner. And I’m right there next to you.
But as much as we hate to hear that message, there is a reason God wants us to hear it. It’s so important that we do. Because otherwise we put our hope in the wrong things. If we think that we are pretty okay people, if we think that we are close enough to perfection, if we think we have any reason to pat ourselves on the back then we’ll miss out on the one who really saves. Because he who saves made a perfect plan, and that plan was all about you. God’s plan was about salvation and victory. He who alone is worthy; who alone is perfect, who alone has done all things right had his heart set on you. In the eyes of the world, we aren’t important but when God looked at us he saw the ones he chose. He chose us not because we were worthy, not because we were good enough, not because we could offer anything. He chose us simply out of love. Even if it cost him his life, he was going to save us. “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-28) God picked us up: the foolish, the weak, the lowly, and the despised. He picked us up, those who weren’t anything and he made us everything. He made you into something that is great and wonderful. He made you perfect. And I don’t use that term loosely. I’m telling this to you out of love: Jesus saved you and took away your sins. He who chose you for eternity and he has given you his perfection. Freely and completely. Before Jesus came to rescue us we had no chance to enter Heaven. We had to be perfect. And now you are. Perfect. It doesn’t matter how the world looks at you because we know how God sees us. He looks at us through his eyes of Sacrifice. Through his eyes of Justice completed. Of sins paid for. When God looks at us he no longer sees our mistakes, our evil, our sins. He sees the perfection he won for us. Once we were nothing because of our sins, but now we have a place with our Savior in eternity. We have been blessed.
And we know that we will still have problems on this side of heaven. We still have weakness and pain. We still are looked down on by the world. But we also know that we have more than we need. “Blessed are the poor in spirit” We’re blessed to know that we have done nothing to earn God’s love, because we also know that God freely opens Heaven to us. We know that there was nothing we could do to earn forgiveness, but that God gave it to us completely. “Blessed are those who mourn…” We are going to know grief and pain while we live in this world. The death of loved ones. The separation we face of family and friends when they are in heaven and we’re still here. But we also know the comfort that only God gives. That even in sorrow we have every reason to look forward with joy. “Blessed are the meek…blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” We’re blessed because we know from whom all good gifts come. “Blessed are the merciful…blessed are the pure in heart…blessed are the peacemakers.” We are blessed because we know that we have been changed. Our hearts are no longer after the things of this world, but now we want to fulfill the will of our God. Because we know that only in him do we have peace. “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness… blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” (Matthew 5:3-11) We are blessed because no matter how much the Devil and this world threaten us, hurt us, imprison us, and mock us they can never take away what God has given. They can’t take away the perfection that Jesus has won for us.
We who once had nothing have given everything. We have been made perfect for heaven and have every reason to celebrate. Let’s brag, let’s boast, let’s let the whole world know what we have. Let’s glorify in our perfection. But not in ourselves. Instead let’s praise God for all of the blessings he has given to us. Because we know who has done it. “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31) Amen.
May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.