What Do You Seek? (1:22)
It is what we are “seeking” that keeps us from “seeing” Jesus for who He is. The Jews wanted a powerful Messiah king who would come and throw off their oppression. The Greeks desired a wise sage-philosopher who would wow them with answers to their questions. Jesus did amazing things and stumped the intellectual elite of His day, but it was not enough.
Why? Because humans in the first century were like humans in the twenty first century. Jesus’ power did not eliminate the problem the Jews were focused on and Jesus’ wisdom did not answer the questions the way the Greeks liked. So the Jews dismissed a man who calmed storms as weak and the Greeks rejected Wisdom Himself as a fool.
Reflection: What do you want Jesus to be? What problem do you tend to “grade” God on based upon the progress or outcome? Until we acknowledge these desires and submit them to God, they will distort our view of God. Consider the following modern updates to this verse. The Romantics seek their needs being met. The Thrill-Seekers demand entertaining worship. The Social Group demands tight knit fellowship. The Successful seek prosperity. The Morally Lax demand grace. Like the Jews and Greeks God is all they want (and more), but we miss the destination because of our love for examining the signs.
Marks of Humility
The theme of the first chapter of Corinthians is a call to unity in the church through the humility of its members and simplicity of its teaching (1:17). This is hard for us. We think being right is always best, so we quarrel (1:11) and identify with certain teachers (1:12).
Consider the following marks of humility as you seek to promote unity through humility.
- A full recognition of your constant need for Christ (I Tim 1:15).
- Able to forgive because you know how you were forgiven (Luke 7:47).
- Consider others more significant than yourself (Phil 2:3).
- Recognize your need for fellow believers (Heb 3:12-13).
- Display your authority in meekness (II Cor 10:1).
- Motivated by opportunities to serve (Gal 5:13).
- Able to teach the obstinate patiently (II Tim 2:24).
- Willing to get close in personal relationships (II Cor 2:4).
- Accept your fault without blame-shifting to other’s faults (Matt 7:3-5).
- Use your failures to instruct others (Psalm 51:12-13).
- Take the initiative to restore broken relationships (Matt 5:23-24).
As you reflect on these traits of humility and brainstorm others, reflect on Proverbs 3:34 which is quoted twice in the New Testament, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Boasting in the Lord (1:31)
Pause and make a list of the things you have vocalized your appreciation for in the last week (foods, household products, sports team, people, or movements). Think of the different ways that you identify yourself as a “fan” of these things. How much do you know about these things and how did you learn it? How do you defend them when a friend enjoys a “rival” thing?
Chances are as you made your list the items on the list did not have much to do with you. My list consisted of fettuccini alfredo, wheat grass juice, the thing that cleans my shower at a push of the button, Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, several close ministry friends, and Biblical Counseling. From this you learn I’m hungry, I’m lazy, where I am from, who I like, and what I do. For the most part this list reveals my needs, weaknesses, and identity more than my pride.
Reflection: When we understand our faith we will “boast in the Lord” in the same way. We needed a Savior (Jesus Christ). We have weaknesses to be refined (sanctification). Our identity is rooted in God (adopted children of God) and His people (the church). When we see ourselves in this way we will interact with our culture as Paul was instructing the Corinthian Christians to do. As they interacted with the Jews and Greeks and heard them speak of power and wisdom as the “rival” answers to life, the Christians were to talk about the simple hope they had in Christ. The offensiveness of this boasting is not “obnoxious fanhood” (sorry Wildcat Nation, but we’re guilty sometimes) but radical implication of simple, humble hope.
Introduction to the “Living Our Faith” series.