2) What is the wisdom of God?
We have been talking about this for the past few months. It’s the cross. It’s Jesus and him crucified. The gospel. The Son of God became a man and lived at a particular point in human history during the first century as a Jewish Rabbi and he began preaching a message of repentance. And when the “wise” ones of Jesus’ day– the religious leaders as well as the political rulers–heard what he had to say, they didn’t like what they were hearing. So they schemed and they plotted and eventually they crucified him.
Think about it. We killed the Son of God and God says, you guys think you are so wise. Let me show you how wise I AM. Here’s true wisdom. Your sin which resulted in the death of my Son is not the end of the story. I am going to raise my Son 3 days later and whoever repents and believes in my Son Jesus will be forgiven. It’s just mind boggling. The cross just doesn’t make sense. It’s illogical. How can God take our greatest sin in murdering His Son and turn the table and display His greatest wisdom.
The cross is the highest wisdom there is. Period. There is nothing more fantastic, nothing more amazing, nothing more mind blowing than the cross of Jesus Christ. As Daniel said, every great work of fiction or Hollywood blockbuster is just a shabby imitation, a shameless borrowing from the story of good conquering evil on the cross.
The cross is not just a nice Sunday school story that you heard your entire life since you were a kid. It’s not just a familiar fable. The cross–yeah, I know it, it’s familiar, I believe it. We can’t be flippant when it comes to the cross. The cross is anything but casual. This is Paul’s critique against the Corinthian church. They treated the cross as something elementary. They wanted “wiser,” more advanced teachings.
I pray that we can always remain a gospel-centered church. We can dip into other areas–spiritual gifts, eschatology or end times, prophecies–but we always have to return to our bread and butter, the gospel, the cross. There are many Christian fads out there: evangelism techniques, leadership training, how to grow your church, among others. Those are all good, but we can never lose sight of the cross of Jesus Christ. This is supreme wisdom according to God.
Now let’s consider the wisdom of God for the believer. The cross comes and you are saved. v21 – no more boasting then as a believer, we get to read the second half of v21 —
21 …All things are yours…
3) What does the phrase “all things are yours” refer to and what are its practical implications for the believer?
Paul unpacks it in v22-23 —
22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
All things are yours. Paul, Apollos, Cephas, these leaders that you are putting on a pedestal, you don’t belong to them, you are not here to build them up, you are not just a number +1 in their twitter following. Actually, they are here to serve you. Paul, Apollos, Cephas are here for you.
I pray that the pastors, elders, college staff, members at LBC have this attitude. We are here to serve. If you are here and you’re just checking us out, know that this is why I am here. I’m here to serve you. There are plenty of others here to serve you, too. We want you to know through our actions that you are thoroughly, completely loved by God. The church is here as a proof that God loves you.
Paul doesn’t stop there. Not just the church or church leaders, but the world is here for the believer to enjoy. Like the Garden of Eden where everything was accessible to Adam and Eve, do you believe that as a child of God, you are supremely loved by God, to the point that everything in this world–the mountains, the trees, the beautiful sunny California weather–this is for you, the believer, to enjoy?
Not just the church, not just the world, but life. Life is here to enjoy. Isn’t it hard to enjoy life? You wake up and it feels like from the moment the alarm clock rings, you are fighting for your life. At our home with 3 young boys, every morning sounds like a fight, literally. Someone is crying, somebody is hurting another, someone is stealing somebody else’s toy. Hey, give me that! That’s not fair. I’m hungry! Life is a fight.
Then, you grab your coffee or whatever you do first thing in the morning and life is a fight. If you commute, then LA traffic is a fight. Then, you get into work and your 100+ emails are waiting for you. Sometimes I feel like my Gmail is alive and it is mocking me because my inbox is out of control. Doesn’t keeping up with email feel like a fight? You don’t respond and in about a week, your email inbox is several pages long and so you don’t respond right away. Then you feel guilty. Guilt leads to paralysis. Paralysis leads to escape and you run to your facebook. Even email is a fight.
Then, how many of us are buried under more than a dozen To Dos? I counted mine. I have 66. That’s just my personal and church-related tasks. I am not even including the consulting related-tasks that I do on the side. Those tasks number in the hundreds because it’s not my priority. They just keep piling up. And some mornings, I think about what needs to get done that day and I want to cry. I don’t want to get out of bed.
This is when you are supposed to have sympathy for your pastor. And this is the small stuff. Personally, there is a church-wide concern that the leaders and core members are praying about right now and every time I think about it, I want to crawl into a hole and pretend it’s not there. I am being very vulnerable today. Is someone going to help me? Anybody?
But I am being overly dramatic. Because I am a Korean and drama is in my blood. Honestly, I can’t complain. Other than funerals and retreats and late night emergencies, I have the best job in the world. I have the best boss, obviously. God will not fire me unless I really, really mess up, but even then he would accept me back. I get paid to read the Bible and pray and meet with people. And the church pays me to do that, can you believe it? I would do it free of charge, but I get paid. It’s an awesome privilege. There is no better job.
I enjoy preaching, but whenever P. John or Brother Daniel preaches, I am really so thankful that I can be sitting out there and be blessed and challenged by their preaching. I know how hard it is to preach while working full-time so I thank them for their sacrifice. But I have to admit, as soon as they are finished, Monday morning rolls around and I see in my future, 2 daunting sermons in 2 weeks. That’s like writing 2 final papers. And esp. Mondays, my preaching preparation feels more like a job than a calling. By the end of the week, of course, I repent, and by Sunday morning, I am excited to share, but in the beginning of the week, it’s hard labor. It’s an uphill battle. Hopefully, someday, sermons will be flowing out of me because I am so in love with Jesus but I’m not there yet.
So when I read that God says, life is yours, I give you life to enjoy–I am not sure if it is just me, but life doesn’t seem all too enjoyable day in, day out. Life feels like work all the time, doesn’t it? Life is a daily grind. Isn’t that why people live for vacations where they can forget about reality and drink margaritas on Fantasy Island for a week?
Think about your dream job. CEO of Facebook. Or Chief Engineer at SpaceX. Or Professor of Quantum Mechanics at MIT. If you are fortunate enough to fight your way to the top and to land your dream job, I can guarantee one thing. No matter how great that job is, give it a few years and every job will feel like a job. A job is a job. Every job, even our dream jobs, will feel like work eventually.
Not just your career, but even the mundane things of life all seem like work. Your room doesn’t clean itself. Keeping your room clean takes work. Doing laundry is work. Cooking meals is work. Getting the kids ready and out the door and putting them to sleep is work. Paying bills is work.
The first thing I want to say is that we shouldn’t be surprised when we experience life as a struggle. In Gen 3, as soon as Adam and Eve said, God, I want you out of my life because I think I know better, I want to rely upon my own wisdom, the result was a life of hard labor. God says to Adam —
Gen 3:17-19 – 17 …Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food.
Before the Fall, life was easy. Adam and Eve didn’t have to work for their food. Everything was provided by God and they just enjoyed His provisions and His presence. As a result of the Fall, the ground was cursed and the result was painful toil. Instead of fruits growing naturally, Adam and Eve had to work the ground. Thorns and thistles grew and they had to exert energy to remove those things so that the fruit could grow. And ever since, life has been characterized by painful toil.
But for the believer, things are fundamentally different. We still live in a broken world, but from the point that we are saved and our relationship with our Heavenly Father is restored, things are different. We are no longer on our own. God is with us. He loves us. Life is hard, life is a lot of toil on this side of eternity. God doesn’t remove all the troubles from this life, but He does say, I am going to walk through those valleys with you. You’re not alone.
We recently went to a conference about prayer and I am trying to relearn what it means to be a beloved child of God. If one of my kids came up to me and said, Dad, I’m in a heap of trouble, I’m in over my head, I don’t know what to do, can you help? I’m not going to say, you know, son, I’m a bit busy right now. No, I would drop everything and say, what’s wrong, how can I help? Let’s go through this together.
And God looks at us. And the great news is that when we cry out to Him, he hears us. And he wants to help. He knows that life is filled with toil and difficulties and hardships. He knows that life is an uphill battle. If you feel like your life is manageable, wait a few more years. It’s hard enough taking care of ourselves. Each of us is a bundle of issues and inconsistencies and burdens. That’s already more than we can handle many times. Then, just add another person like a spouse and add his/her burdens to your own burdens. Or add a few kids to the mix. Or if you are a Christian and you take seriously the command to love your neighbor, factor in a few more complete strangers whom you call your brother or sister in Christ. And their burdens become your burdens because you care for them. And before you know it, watch how life quickly spirals beyond our control.
Here is the good news. God actually delights in the fact that we come to him overwhelmed by life. Because that act of praying is a reversal of the Fall. The Fall, in essence, was us telling God, I know better. I am wiser than you. Let me do life on my own. Prayer, on the other hand, is saying to God, I can’t do life on my own. I’m in over my head. I can’t handle life, much less the lives of others. Lord, I need you.
We need to believe at bottom that we are loved by God. He is our Heavenly Father and we are his beloved children. We have to believe it. Otherwise, we are going to live life like practical atheists. We may believe in God intellectually, but many times we live life day in and day out like he is not there. Like God doesn’t really care about the details of our lives. That we cry out, can someone help me, anybody? And no one answers. Meaning we are not loved and we are alone and we have to fend for ourselves. In other words, even as believers, we end up living like spiritual orphans.
Elijah is the happiest kid in my family, most of the time. If you don’t know who he is, after service, just look for the two year old who walks around with his belly out and who struts around like he owns this place. That’s Elijah. For him, the fact that Daddy loves him is all he needs. He is not stressed out trying to be the first one in his preschool class. He is not racing with others in the class to see who will get potty trained first. He is fine just pooping in his diapers all day long.
When I pick him up, he comes running into my arms. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing. He could be playing with his friends or building something with the legos. But as soon as he sees me, he drops everything and comes running.
It’s sad to see kids grow up. If I go to pick up the older kids, they are like, what’s up? And they are starting to feel embarrassed to give me a kiss in public. They are young enough that I can still threaten them and make them kiss me, but I know there will come a day when threats will no longer work.
As kids grow up, Daddy’s love is not enough. I’ll have to compete with their friends’ attention. I’ll have to compete with activities like sports and hobbies. When they are old enough to own a computer, forget it. I’ll be so boring to them. Eventually, I have to compete with their first romantic crush, and then it’s really game over.
God says, I love you, all is yours. Everything in the world, I created for you to enjoy. Everything in life that is beautiful and noble and untainted by sin, I give to you as a gift. Everything is yours. Quit fighting. Quit living like an orphan. God says, you are my beloved child.