2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (1 Cor 2:2)
I resolved to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified. Why? Paul was well-educated. He could have studied many different subjects as a believer — apologetics, eschatology, theology, spiritual gifts — yet he committed to know nothing except the cross of Christ. I am sure Paul had many reasons why he lived this way, but for today, I want to cover 3 of them.
3 reasons why Paul resolved to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified, or in other words, the cross — 3 reasons why Paul resolved to know nothing except the cross:
1) Because life is short
2) Because the cross is true wisdom
3) Because the cross is true power
1) Because life is short.
Jesus and him crucified – Apostle Paul said I resolved to know no other thing. He didn’t resolve to know much about the spiritual gifts. He didn’t resolve to know much about strategies for how to grow your church. Jesus and him crucified, the cross – in a nutshell, that’s the gospel. Nothing else mattered to Paul. Why? Because Paul always had a sense of urgency.
Rom 13 – 11 And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Paul is not explicit in 1 Cor 2 about time being short. But it’s implied when he says, I resolved to know nothing else except Jesus and him crucified, I resolved to know only one thing, only one thing matters, it’s implied that in the back of his mind, he says this knowing that time is running out. Pastor Don, one of my mentors, shared in a room filled with young church planters recently, he said — “Guys, there is a smaller percentage of believers in LA than there was 10 years ago. We’re losing LA for the gospel. I am getting old. It’s time for you guys to get serious about saving souls. We got to plant more churches.” Then he stepped down. That’s all he needed to say. It was powerful.
P. Don can say that because he is getting up there in age and his body is breaking down. He had just gotten out of the hospital to treat one of his many health issues. And so for him, every day, he is reminded that time is short. And when time is running out, you tend to strip away all the fluff that really doesn’t matter and you focus on what really matters.
When you are diagnosed with cancer and you only have 1 month to live, I doubt that you will continue to go to work or go to school. You want to maximize that time to be with your loved ones. Having a keen sense of time being short gives you a razor sharp focus on what really matters.
Paul knew that time was short. He was a tentmaker but he wasn’t trying to start a tentmaking empire. He wasn’t out for money or fame. In fact, to the churches he planted, he never asked for money for himself because he wanted to preach the gospel free of charge and he didn’t want to unnecessarily burden the churches. He was single because he wanted to devote himself fully to the work of the Lord. And so to those who were not yet married, he said, if you can remain single, then remain single so that you can keep your undivided devotion to the Lord. Paul was focused on the gospel because time was short. He was not playing around. Because people were dying and he wanted God to use him to save as many as possible.
Time is short. That’s one constant of life. Until science finds a way of slowing down the aging process, if you are over the age of 25, your body is dying. At the age of 25, did you know that your brain cells are no longer regenerating? So my brain has been decaying for over 11 years. A couple of months ago, I fell weird in basketball and the next day, my lower back was so stiff, I could hardly walk. And just this past week, I lifted something weird and strained my neck. This kind of stuff never happened to me before. Now it’s happened twice in the past couple months. What’s going on? Why is my body breaking down? In my mind, I am in the prime of my life. I’m an 18 years old in college. In reality, my body is telling me, wake up and smell the Ben Gay. In a few years, most of us in this room will be in the “I am slowly dying” category. Time is short.
This is the main theme that kept repeating itself during our family trip to the East Coast a couple of weeks ago. I attended my brother’s wedding and it was a beautiful wedding. They say that your wedding day is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life. But one thing is constant. It’s just a day. 24 hours, then it’s over. It doesn’t matter how many months or even years you prepare for your wedding. It doesn’t matter how many tens of thousands of dollars you spend. It doesn’t matter how much you pack in the schedule on the wedding day. 24 hours later, everything ends and we all go home. Time is short.
This is true to life. Think back to the happiest moments of your life. Your first goal in soccer, your first music recital, getting into the school of your dreams, passing that incredibly difficult board exam, getting married, witnessing the birth of your first child — how long did the joy from these experiences last? An hour? A day? Maybe a week? These are fleeting joys because time is short and so after we reach one goal, it’s on to the next, and the next, and so forth until our skin shrivels up, our back hunches over and we die.
I saw my aunt for the first time since she was diagnosed with leukemia, which is a cancer of the blood cells, a few months ago. Immediate family knows about her condition but no one can talk to her because she is not ready to talk about it. She’s a successful bank executive in NJ at the pinnacle of her career. And I was having a hard time reconciling — seeing my aunt with her son who is in high school and her daughter in junior high, seeing all of them on the dance floor laughing and having a good time and reconciling that picture with the reality that she is dying and it’s a terminal illness with no cure. Nobody knows how much time she has left. Time is short.
After the wedding, I saw my grandmother in NY. The last time I saw her was 8 years ago on her 80th bday. We had a big banquet in honor of her life. My grandmother is a very accomplished oil canvas painter and a writer. She’s written some books, an autobiography, a book of poems. And so her life’s work was on display — her many paintings displayed around the room — and she had a book signing. She was always the life of the party. Big personality. So funny, so alive. Then, about a year ago, she began to suffer from dementia. And when I saw her this time around, I couldn’t recognize her. She had aged so much. She didn’t recognize any of us. Not even her own son, my dad. My grandmother had painted a portrait of my dad and my dad took that painting off the wall and held it up and said to my grandmother, “Mom, don’t you remember me? It’s me, it’s your son.” It was heartbreaking. It’s quite shocking how things can change so dramatically in a few short years.
During this last trip, Jackie and I had a chance to visit the city of NY. The last time we visited NY to do some sightseeing was 10 years ago. We were in the tour van and it was about 9am. There was a ton of traffic and then a car next to us told us to roll down our window and the driver said, turn on the radio. And our tour guide turned it on and we couldn’t believe what we were hearing. The World Trade Center had been hit by an airplane. We pulled off to the side of the freeway and we saw in the distance the fire billowing from the building. And a few minutes later, with our own eyes, we saw the towers crumbling down. There was a stunned silence. Then the silence was broken by pockets of people around us shrieking, crying, people falling to their knees. It’s a moment I will never forget. It was a reminder that in the end, everything crumbles. The only foundation that is solid enough to build a life upon is Jesus Christ. He is the Solid Rock. As the hymn goes, everything else is sinking sand. And I remember praying to God, Lord, time is short, I commit my life to preach the gospel so that people around me might have a chance to be saved.
That was 10 years ago. And on this 10th anniversary of 9/11, I recommit myself to preaching the gospel. Because time is short.
Do you share Paul’s sentiment that he resolved to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified? Let’s examine our lives.
What are you investing your life in? Look at this past year, this past month, this past week? How did you invest your time? Don’t waste your life on things that will be here today and gone tomorrow.
Paul resolved to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified because time is short, that’s number one.