Let us pray: Dear Savior, how sad it is for You that so many people in our country have walked away from honoring You. How You must grieve over those souls that You paid for with Your blood. Today, cause all of us to resolve that we will never be counted in their number. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE ONLY SAVIOR THERE IS!
TEXT: I Corinthians 1: 22-25
Fellow Redeemed Sinners Saved By The Blood of Christ:
Earlier this week a national poll reported that more people than ever answered: “None” when it came to religious affiliation. Vermont was the most non-religious state in the Union with 34% saying: “No” to God. The rest of New England was right up there, too.
I should be shocked by this, but I’m not. I’ve lived in this region too long to be taken aback by its heathen attitude. In our post-modern culture, espoused by literally every major college and university, the whole concept of “God” is mocked and denigrated at every turn. Likewise, the fruits of the baby-boom generation’s: “Me first” emotionalism coupled with hedonistic lifestyles has been transported to their kids and grandkids. Why rely on God when you are told to rely on yourself or government to fix your life’s problems? Is it any wonder that psychotherapy is so popular? For in that genre, human beings are taught to rely on themselves to find meaning to their lives within themselves. Such navel gazing, coupled with giving in to sensualism, (if it feels good, do it) turns people into their own little god. And so Church worship and Godly belief based on the Bible is superfluous to most folks.
This is all very, very sad. It’s frightening. It will create more and more chaos within our culture. And yet, it’s not new. Such was the situation that the early Church and the apostles’ confronted. Today, let’s review St. Paul’s answer to this problem by considering:
WHY AREN’T GOD’S CHURCHES FULL?
They were an older, middle-aged couple. They showed up one Sunday and periodically, over the next couple of years, they attended church. One Sunday the husband came up to me after service and asked: “I don’t like it when in the confession of sins it says: “I’m by nature a poor, miserable sinner.” He didn’t agree that sinfulness was his natural state. I responded by asking him: “Are you perfect?” His answer was: “No.” Then I asked him: “Do you do bad things?” He said: “Yes.” Finally, I said: “Well, where do you think that inclination to do bad things comes from? It comes from your naturally sinful heart.” Well, their attendance got more and more sporadic until finally they quit coming altogether. This same fellow also had an alcohol addiction which he refused to acknowledge. It all combined to cause him to reject Church because he refused to acknowledge the reality of his sinful nature.
Embracing non-religion really begins and ends with a failure to deal with the problem of evil. Evil exists. It causes trouble for us. So, where does it come from? The Bible answers: Satan. Satan corrupted us and broke our bond with God and now evil lurks within us and must receive God’s total assistance to fight it off. Ignoring that fact, or saying it’s “anti-intellectual” or merely externalizing evil into a few bad habits, does nothing to lift humans above evil behavior. You see, by ignoring your own sin-tainted heart, you can then ignore God’s goodness and God’s cure. That’s the situation today. Is it any wonder America finds itself in a downward spiral?
This state of affairs existed among the Jews at Paul’s time and among the Greek-speaking people he worked among as well. And Paul sums up the reasons behind why both groups rejected Christ and His cure. “Jews demand miraculous signs, and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.”
Those two types of people still exist. In fact, everyone falls into one category or the other. Those of the Jewish-type mindset refused to embrace God unless and until He did some miracle within their lives. Everything is about seeing and experiencing God’s greatness directly and personally. Of course, when God heals their wife, or enables their child to escape an accident—that’s not great enough in their eyes. It’s just “life” to them. So, they ignore God’s goodness and walk away. Think of all the times the masses did that to Christ? Yes, some believed and accepted and embraced Him. But most thought it was a trick, or He had an angle, and they rejected Him. Of course, down deep, the problem was: to face up to God’s miracles they also had to face up to their sinful hearts which were so powerless to effect a miracle. And prideful hearts never want to do that, do they?
Meanwhile, the other group the Greeks, were the intellectuals of the day. They were the ones who liked to ponder man’s greatness and pat themselves on the back for being able to figure out all the issues of life on their own. They talked, they debated, they argued, and they never resolved anything. You see they didn’t want to take a stand because if they did, it meant their ego would take a fatal hit. So, they branded “God talk” as foolishness, as non-scientific, as backward. They were so smart! They could handle life all on their own! They didn’t need the emotional crutch of religion to get them through!
Does any of this sound familiar? It should, for we hear it every single day. And it’s the reason behind why God’s churches aren’t full. To me, the amazing thing about such non-religious people is that for all their advanced learning and intellectual acumen, in the end their own sinful hearts blind them from honestly confronting the existence of evil and what it is doing to them.
Well, Paul was smart and well-educated, too. But God had broken through his evil heart and changed it with Christ’s love and forgiveness. God had sent His Son to die for Paul on the cross and that amazing display of unselfish love had changed and converted Paul into a mighty warrior for Christ and His Church. Paul was converted by Christ preaching the cross to him and through the Holy Spirit empowering and energizing that message within him. And so, in response to the non-believers, Paul does the same. He simply preaches God’s truths and lets God be God! “But to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”
This last sentence sums it all up. It’s really a contrary to fact conditional sentence. The fact is: God is never foolish and He is never weak. But even if He were, He would still be wiser and stronger than any mere mortal. And God proved it by sending Christ to die for our evil nature and then rise from the grave to reveal just how wise and strong He really is! Our eternal Judge, Jesus Christ, decreed that He would suffer for the guilty and that He would bear their punishment: death. And then that Judge arose from the dead to announce to the world that His sacrifice for us was total, complete, perfect, and all loving.
Unlike humans, God confronted evil and beat it! And He did it for us. He did it to free us from its grip and to give us a new, better, and more pure heart. A thankful heart. A humble heart. A faith-filled heart. Well, since the church is not full yet, all this means that we need to preach Christ crucified, too. Get busy this week. Amen