FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
THE CROSS OF CHRIST
August 26, 2016
Today’s reading: 1 Corinthians 1:17-25
Once again Paul gives us many principles of servant leadership.
First, an essential aspect is preaching the gospel, which is essentially the work of evangelization. We serve in many ways, but the best service is to help bring souls back to God and back to the Church, and help bring them to heaven. “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel” (v.17a).
Second, God can use anyone, as He equips whomever He authentically calls. We preach “not with the wisdom of human eloquence” (v.17b). This is such a blessing to all of us. We do not have to be already good speakers, or to know the Bible in-and-out, or to already be living holy lives, or whatever. If we offer ourselves, and if we allow God to use us, then He will equip us.
Third, preaching the gospel is centered on the cross. It is not about the prosperity gospel. It is not about political correctness, which seeks to give people a nice but fuzzy feeling of acceptance and comfort. Rather, our faith is centered on Christ who was crucified. The icon of mercy is Christ crucified. We preach “so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.” (v.17c).
Fourth, the cross is all about our salvation, and manifests the power of God. “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (v.18). Christians ignore the cross at their peril. Those who do not embrace the cross of Christ cannot be true disciples, and will almost certainly lose their way. There is no power in Christian living apart from the cross.
Fifth, in looking to the cross, the wisdom of the world is foolishness to God. Many look to secularist ways, making their own path to heaven. It can never be that way. Being wise in Christ is not being wise in the ways of the world. “Where is the wise one?” (v.20a). It is not about just being learned in theology or Church matters. “Where is the scribe?” (v.20b). It is not about being eloquent. “Where is the debater of this age?” (v.20c). Rather, it is about looking to God and His ways, and allowing Him to form and mold us accordingly. “Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?” (v.20d). The one who is worldly-wise has become a fool. The one who looks to human strength is not able to overcome. “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” (v.25).
Sixth, looking to worldly secular wisdom can make us enemies of God, as such is oftentimes contradictory to divine or gospel wisdom. Rather than being used mightily by God, we will be set aside. “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the learning of the learned I will set aside.” (v.19).
Seventh, our evangelization and all our works must always be centered on Christ. This is the bottom line. This is what will keep us on track. This is how we tap on to divine power. Thus “we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (v.23-24).
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