Christianity 201

January 22, 2013

God Journeys With Us

This is from a chapter that falls late (chapter 22) into a recent book by Matt Litton, Holy Nomad: The Rugged Road To Joy (Abingdon Press). The chapter is titled Notes to Self: Building Altars Along The Trail.

Israel’s exodus from Egypt was a serious version of Mr. Short Term Memory. Despite God’s hand in the journey, it took His people less than a month to become restless and dissatisfied. They quickly regress into forgetfulness and worry. The story tells us,

“…the whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the sons of Israel said to them, ‘Would that we had died at the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full, for you have brought us into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

They forget so quickly!

…What would you say if you were god? I would be a little incensed. What about the plagues on Egypt and pillars of fire at night? Destroying the greatest army in the world? And this is what I get? But God remains faithful providing them with water from rocks, food delivered from the sky, and victory over those who would threaten them.

Holy Nomad - Matt LittonThree of the gospels tell of the disciples crossing the Red Sea in a boat. A storm comes upon them suddenly when Jesus is sleeping and they all begin to panic and think that the boat will sink. Jesus awakes irritated with their lack of faith and simply commands the sea to calm down. The Story recounts the chaos of weather and sea was immediately put to rest. Isn’t it curious that these men who walk side by side with the Nomad witnessing his miracles and power would panic knowing that he was with them in the boat?

They forget so quickly.

…Part of being nomadic means we must be intentional about remembering God’s faithfulness. This has been part of the Nomadic practice since the beginning of time. It is first mentioned with Abraham in Genesis as he builds an altar to God after securing a great victory. In fact, Abraham constructs altars so often that you might trace his nomadic adventures by the landmarks he left in his wake. Noah builds an altar after the flood. God commands Joseph to build an altar at Bethel in Genesis 35 to remmbe3r all that God has done for him. From the passover to the Last Supper and down the line through the history of the Bible the Nomadic journey was sustained at times by the “altars” signifying God’s faithful attendance to the Nomad.

Think of this way — we are continuing to write our part in a much greater Story that began in Genesis. It is helpful for us to take a moment in our travels to remember the presence of God not only in our lives but in those who came before us. We remember together with our nomadic ancestors. If we truly believe in Resurrection, then we must realize that we are celebrating together as a family.

When we celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas, we remember God’s great gift to us. We are reminded that this gift should move us forward to give to others.

At lent we remember Christ’s journey toward the Cross with reflection that allows us to assess the baggage we are carrying on our travels.

At Easter we are reminded of the great sacrifice of forgiveness. We must be open to accepting the grace we are afforded and pass it on generously to others.

We observe Pentecost to celebrate the Holy Spirit’s movement on the Early Church and the way the Spirit leads us in our journey today.

These traditions are more than the invention of gift card companies, retailers, or national holidays, although they seem to have been hijacked by all three. They are our days.

November 23, 2012

Was it a Miracle of the Speakers or of the Listeners?

Keith Brenton recently raised this question at Blog In My Own Eye.

I think folks have long and pointlessly debated whether the miracle of many languages in Acts 2 took place in the tongues of the speakers or the ears of the listeners.

My answer to the question is “yes.”

Verse four says: “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

Tongues, yes.

Verses eight through eleven say: “Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? … We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues.” Those in verse thirteen don’t seem to hear the wonders of God at all and decide: “They have had too much wine.”

Ears, yes.

Remember, Jesus said the Advocate would come to “convict (or prove) the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16). He didn’t limit the Spirit’s work to the speaker’s tongue or the listener’s ear. Those who say the Spirit can’t convict from within are limiting the implications of Acts 10, Galatians 5, Ephesians 2, 1 Corinthians 2 and 1 John 4 in a way that scripture doesn’t.

I worry that there’s a little bit of preacher arrogance behind the “tongues-only” position.

I’m not a preacher, but I write. If you ask me what is the most important thing I’ve ever written, I can tell you. (By the way, it’s this.) But if you ask a dozen people who’ve read what I’ve written, you’d probably get a dozen different answers — unless you go the answer “He hasn’t written anything important” more  than once. Which is a distinct possibility.

Same thing with preachers and what they preach. Some messages reach and touch and resonate deeply with some people in an audience that don’t connect with others at all. Sometimes even the speaker/writer will think a message is a total loss and a waste of time and effort … only to discover from a note or a comment that someone ini its audience was profoundly challenged or moved.

Other times, the originator of the message will look back on it and wonder … doubting if such deep truth (unrecognized as such at the time) could possibly have its ultimate origins in one’s own three pounds of sweetbread.

You see, the thing about the languages is almost irrelevant.

People heard truth in the words they heard in Acts 2. Some recognized it as such. Others refused to. For them, the miracle in their ears never happened because they were not convicted; they were not willing to accept it in faith. (Makes you think of Mark 6:1-6, doesn’t it?)

For me, that answers the “tongues-or-ears” question with an unequivocal “yes.” The Spirit works as He wills (1 Corinthians 12). There are no man-made restrictions on whom He can fall (Acts 2:17-18).

So if you speak or write and seek to do so for the Lord, keep on praying for inspiration.

And if you seek to listen to Him, to read and hear Him, do the same.

Because the Father sends His Spirit to those who ask.

“If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” ~ Luke 11:13

November 15, 2012

Show Your Power, Lord

Today we flash back to a C201 post from exactly two years ago…

What do you do if the Passover has already passed over, the Red Sea has already parted, and the son has already stood still? Habakkuk no doubt felt like he’d missed Israel’s “glory days.”

Habakkuk 3:2(NIV) LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.

We do the same thing. It’s easy to wish that we could see the miracles. Maybe you missed the “third wave” of the charismatic movement in the 1970s; or missed the ocean baptisms of the Jesus movement, also in the ’70s. Maybe you missed the moment at a Creation Festival; or couldn’t attend a particular year of Promise Keepers. Perhaps you weren’t there when that church doubled its attendance in six months; or when that individual was dramatically healed, or another delivered from a particular addiction.

Or maybe you didn’t miss a thing, but feel like nothing compares to Old Testament signs and wonders or first century miracles. Like Habakkuk you say:

Habakkuk 3:2(NIV) LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.

But always remember how he ends this particular chapter. Even if life appears to be the opposite of all that you’d like to see, even if, as the Brits say, it’s all gone pear shaped; our faith is not shaken. It doesn’t negate the prayer of verse 2, but in 17-19 the prophet puts things in a larger perspective:

Habakkuk 3:17-19a (NLT) Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign Lord is my strength!

 

– = – = – = –

My reading of chapter 3 of Habakkuk was inspired by listening to a great sermon by Darren Whitehead, a teaching pastor at Willow Creek.

October 12, 2012

You Don’t Have Because You Don’t Ask

John 14 : 14 (NIV)  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

John 16 : 23 (NIV) In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

John 16: 24 (NIV) Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

John 16: 23-24 (The Message) “This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I’ve revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will, and he’ll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks!

We are commanded to go to God with our needs — our prayer petitions — and leave them before him. But what are our expectations of what happens next?

There are many people who believe that God’s intervention in the affairs of humankind are an extreme rarity. The world is simply what it is, and that is the answer to the question, “If God… why all the suffering in the world?” We live in a fallen world where there is bound to pain and sorrow; flood, fire and famine; doom, defeat and despair.

(That was a cheery paragraph; I’ll have to remember that one.)

There are other people who believe that God certainly hears our prayer requests and that this is the end in itself: That God wants to be in communication (or fellowship) with us. He wants us to tell us when and where it hurts. He wants each situation to bring us back to him. He wants us to come to him when we are ‘burdened and heavy-laden.’

Still others believe that while God’s intervention is rarity, miracles do exist; they just don’t happen every day. We’re talking about genuine miracles here, not things contrived for the glare of the television lights or the crowd in the arena. 

Further up the ‘hope’ ladder are those who would say, ‘God is positive disposed and favorably inclined to give us what we ask.’ Why this doesn’t happen may be related to the complexities of other situations we can’t see, or a lesson that we need to learn before the answer comes. But absent those factors, God’s default position would be to give us what we come to him asking.

And there are those who believe that God is constantly orchestrating more details in the lives of his people than anything we can possibly imagine; that there are constantly situations where God is even giving us ‘answers to requests we haven’t made;’ or that life consists of many seen and unseen coincidences, defined as, “Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.”  This view ranges from the dramatic holding on to the hope of healing even when doctors say the situation is incurable; to the trivial belief of some that God is truly willing to intervene in life on Planet Earth so that you will get a parking space next to the mall entrance.

…Parking spaces notwithstanding, I fall into the latter camp. I have to pray believing that my prayer is not only making a difference in me, but also in the situation. Regardless of statistical odds or past prayer performance, I have to go to him with an ultimate faith that he is willing and able to execute deliverance from whatever situation is pressing in. This is the faith of children; what it means to ‘come as a child,’ and it’s a faith that is not double-minded, but believes without doubt (See James 1:8 and 1:6 and Mark 11:23) and without wrong motivation (see James 4:3).

(Deliverance is a better way of defining the situation. If you are praying for money for a specific need you are praying for a deliverance from poverty with respect to that financial issue.)

…The greatest danger I see is in not asking at all. Not coming to God to bear our souls and cry out for help or mercy because the petitions we brought before him last month were not answered in the affirmative. I believe God will respect our tenacity in prayer; our willingness to go to him even in the absence (so far) of the answers we sought before.

He longs to see faith that is lived out in a concrete assurance of things not apparent (Hebrews 11:1).

PW

 

 

 

September 23, 2012

Keep Your Good Works Hidden, But Shine Your Light

“You must understand that God has not sent his Son into the world to pass sentence upon it, but to save it—through him. Any man who believes in him is not judged at all. It is the one who will not believe who stands already condemned, because he will not believe in the character of God’s only Son. This is the judgment—that light has entered the world and men have preferred darkness to light because their deeds are evil. Anybody who does wrong hates the light and keeps away from it, for fear his deeds may be exposed. But anybody who is living by the truth will come to the light to make it plain that all he has done has been done through God.”  John 3: 17-21; J. B. Phillips translation.

The Bible makes a strong case that we’re not to “trumpet” our good works in order to get credit, or draw attention to ourselves. Nor, we are instructed, should we make a spectacle out of prayer, or giving. We are to approach God, and do acts of service with a humble spirit. We’re to take the back seat, though we might be asked to come forward.

But this verse, following on the heels of the popular John 3:16 text, tells us that we won’t stay hidden in the darkness such as those who do wrong (evil), but rather we will come into the light, because we are naturally drawn to be people of the light.

  • NASB: But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.
  • NCV: But those who follow the true way come to the light, and it shows that the things they do were done through God
  • The Message: But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.

One verse that comes to my mind in this context is in Acts 26 where Paul is speaking before Agrippa and Festus:

26 For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.

I deliberate chose the KJV for this one because I love the phrasing, “this thing was not done in a corner.”  But most of the translations — even the modern ones — keep this phrasing, with The Message rendering, “You must realize that this wasn’t done behind the scenes.” Just as ‘cream rises to the surface,’ so will the works of God be evident, even in an unbelieving world.

Here’s how the NLT and Amplified Bible render Matthew 5:15-16

NLT 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.

AMP16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven.

Therefore:

  • We dwell in the light, not darkness
  • We reflect (or you could say, carry) The Light of God
  • We shine like light and are the light of the world

~PW

June 13, 2011

Eight Mistakes the American Church Made

The full title of the sermon that J. Lee Grady preached in Nigeria was “Eight Mistakes the American Church Made That I Hope You Don’t Repeat.”  This appeared in the May 2002 issue of Charisma; I tried to find it online, but couldn’t, so the typos are all mine!

  1. We made unbelief a doctrine.  While Christians in China, Latin America and Africa were casting out devils and healing the sick, we were teaching seminary students that the Holy Spirit doesn’t do miracles anymore.  That’s really bad theology.
  2. We tolerated division.  Who needs the devil when Christians are perfectly okay with hating one another in the name of denominational loyalty?  Why should the world listen to us teach about “family values” when the family of God is so fractured?
  3. We cultivated a religious spirit.  We taught converts that Christianity is about daily Bible reading, church attendance and avoiding cigarettes and beer. Genuine faith became drudgery. Christians trapped in dry legalism lost their joy because they though intimacy with God could be achieved by their performance.
  4. We encouraged ‘superstars.’  We elevated ministers to celebrity status and some of them actually believed they deserved the titles, the pedestals, the grand entrances and the first-class seats next to Jesus’ throne.  They stopped modeling servanthood, and has a result the church forgot that Jesus washed feet and rode on a donkey.
  5. We equated money with success.  We taught that biblical prosperity could be obtained by inserting our tithes into a heavenly slot machine.  Lotto fever spread throughout the church, and we found a way to legitimize greed and materialism when we should have been using our wealth to feed the poor, adopt orphans and fund missionary ventures.
  6. We wouldn’t release women in ministry. We let gender prejudice have more control in the church than the Holy Spirit.  He’s ready to send an army of dedicated women to the front lines of spiritual battle — but He’s waiting for us to bury our stinking male pride.
  7. We stayed in the pews and became irrelevant.  We insisted on letting a group of older white men in dark suits represent our faith in the marketplace, and we freaked out when somebody tried to use rap, punk or metal music to reach the younger generations.  Instead of engaging the culture we hid from it.
  8. We taught people to be escapists.  Jesus told us to occupy the planet until He returns. But most of us were reading rapture novels when we should have been praying for our brothers and sisters who were on the verge of martyrdom. They were willing to suffer and die for the cause.  Why can’t we have that kind of faith?

 

November 27, 2010

Laughter is a “Surprise” Reaction

Today’s post is written by Randy Bohlender, a blogger I once linked to at Thinking Out Loud, but had lost track of.   This is a longer post, but a must read.     It appeared at his blog under the title, Laughing When It’s Not Funny

We use humor or laughter to try to cover a multitude of things.

When children say something particularly cutting and then realize they’ve stepped over the line and someone’s feelings were truly hurt, they throw the smokescreen of ‘just kidding’.

Adults, on the other hand, use the laughter escape hatch to avoid dealing with their own pain. “Did I dream that? Was I hoping to accomplish that? That’s a joke. I never meant it. I’m fine. No, really…”.

Most of you know that I’m on this Bible reading kick, my second 90 day lap through the scriptures. I’ve been overwhelmed at the number of people who’ve decided to do this at the same time – I wish I’d kept track, but my guess is I’ve heard of nearly fifty people from across the nation and faith spectrum. I’m loving it.

I couldn’t help but think of those people this morning as i read about Sarah, hiding behind the curtain, listening to her husband entertain heavenly guests. When they spoke to him about Sarah having a child in her old age, she laughed.

It was ludicrous, wasn’t it? It was silly. It was unheard of. So she laughed. Besides, laughter was easier than tears, and there had been so many tears over this issue.

She and her husband had been married many long years but no child had been born to them. It wasn’t for lack of desire. In a culture that very much understood the power of family lineage, it wasn’t just a desire, it was a necessity. To have a child was to have a future. To grow old without children meant a miserable existence. She’d longed…and hoped…but to no avail.

It’s not hard to identify with her. We’ve all wanted something so badly that it hurt – often times things that God would desire us to want. We’ve all dreamed God dreams in the dark of night and wondered if the dawn would ever come. Sarah had decided that the night season was her lot in life. A child was not coming. It was easier to laugh than it was to cry because it helped her keep up the facade that it didn’t really matter. She was fine, really. What a hoot – a child in her old age.

Except that it wasn’t fine.

The ache was still there.

It might seem cruel to stir the dead dream of an old woman…unless you’ve got the power to bring it to pass. God had watched her hope, He had watched her pray, and He had watched her give up. Now, He watched her laugh….laugh at the thought that He might be true to His word, not because she thought it was funny, but because it was her only ‘out’ from under the weight of the dream.

Of course, a few chapters later, much to her shock, her dream lives. A little boy is born. The realization of her dream is so much more than she ever imagined. She holds him close at night and she remembers the day she laughed and the countless nights she cried. In that moment, she knows better than anyone where life comes from and who brings dreams back from the dead.

A vast percentage of people on this Bible reading journey are laughing to cover tears over a dead dream. Let Sarah’s story be a lesson – God has the last laugh.

If it was His dream, it didn’t die. In the fullness of time, it will be all He promised. You can laugh if you want to.

In addition to being a husband and father, Randy Bohlender and his wife Kelsey founded The Zoe Foundation, which uses various means to help facilitate adoption, which makes this particular Bible story, I’m sure, all that more relevant.

November 18, 2010

Lord, Show Your Power

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:40 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

What do you do if the Passover has already passed over, the Red Sea has already parted, and the son has already stood still?  Habakkuk no doubt felt like he’d missed Israel’s “glory days.”

Habakkuk 3:2(NIV) LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.

We do the same thing.   It’s easy to wish that we could see the miracles.   Maybe you missed the “third wave” of the charismatic movement in the 1970s; or missed the ocean baptisms of the Jesus movement, also in the ’70s.   Maybe you missed the moment at a Creation Festival; or couldn’t attend a particular year of Promise Keepers.   Perhaps you weren’t there when that church doubled its attendance in six months; or when that individual was dramatically healed, or another delivered from a particular addiction.

Or maybe you didn’t miss a thing, but feel like nothing compares to Old Testament signs and wonders or first century miracles.   Like Habakkuk you say:

Habakkuk 3:2(NIV) LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.

But always remember how he ends this particular chapter.   Even if life appears to be the opposite of all that you’d like to see, even if, as the Brits say, it’s all gone pear shaped; our faith is not shaken.   It doesn’t negate the prayer of verse 2, but in 17-19 the prophet puts things in a larger perspective:

Habakkuk 3:17-19a (NLT) Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign Lord is my strength!

– = – = – = –

My reading of chapter 3 of Habakkuk was inspired today by listening to a great sermon by Darren Whitehead, teaching pastor at Willow Creek. Click this link, select the recent Troublemakers series, and then select his message on Esther from October 16/17.

October 11, 2010

Believing The Impossible!

Today’s piece is from Lori Ettel, author of the devotional blog, A Display of His Splendor, and appeared under the title, “Superhero.”


“David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine, your servant will go and fight him.” (1Samual 17:32)

Yesterday at soccer practice I had to laugh when I saw this little boy. He is three and is the cutest thing ever. He has blonde curly hair and is such a dude. When I saw him, I told him he’s going to be surfer…that’s what he looks like. And he replied boldly, “No I’m not. I’m going to be Spiderman!!” I love it. He was so doggone cute! That is such a boy statement.

It reminded me of David and Goliath. Here the Philistines thought their guy was bigger and tougher. They thought they had it in the bag. The Israeli army was buying it too. They were so intimidated by Goliath’s size. They were frightened and no one would step forward to fight. They just stood there. Along comes David. He’s not afraid. He’ll fight Goliath.

Now, David was the youngest among his brothers. He was sent simply to bring them food. He wasn’t planning to fight that day. But when he got there and saw what was going on, he couldn’t believe it. He knew his God was bigger than Goliath. He knew that he could do anything with God backing him up. Everyone thought David was just young and stupid. But in reality, he knew the one with the Super powers. He knew that only God could defeat Goliath. He had child-like faith. Everyone around him was older and wiser…hmmm. But David had faith.

I think it’s interesting that as we get older, we become less likely to believe the unbelievable. We become so full of wisdom and knowledge; we don’t think God can do the impossible. We start off as children thinking we can do anything. But as we age, we become more afraid. Aren’t we supposed to be more grounded in the Lord as we grow older? Aren’t we supposed to be less afraid as we grow older? Instead, we fear more. Is it because we are wiser and have seen the truth of life? I think we have started depending on what we see and not depending so much on what is unseen. We have limited the power of God and taken over. We have become so self-sufficient. We think if we cannot do a task, it simply cannot be done. We have stopped relying on God. We have stopped believing in His power. We are too willing to accept defeat.

I love that a little three year old boy reminded me that he is not afraid of anything. He truly believes he can do anything. He can’t wait to grow up and be Spiderman. Something happens to us as we grow older. We lose that ability to believe that God can do anything. The bible is full of magnificent stories of God and His power. But we don’t really believe them, do we? Oh they are nice stories but God doesn’t work like that anymore does He? We don’t believe He can. God is not any less powerful or willing to show His power. I believe we simply don’t expect it. God is so big. He is able. He is a Superhero!

He is able more than able
To accomplish what concerns me today
He is able more than able
To handle anything that comes my way

He is able more than able
To do much more than I could ever dream
He is able more than able
To make me what He wants me to be

August 9, 2010

Currently Reading: Sun Stand Still

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:36 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sun Stand Still is the title of a book by Stephen Furtick, publishing late September from Multnomah Books.   Furtick is lead pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Furtick is a great believer in a concept he calls “audacious faith;” the kind of faith that would inspire Joshua to ask God to freeze time so that the enemies of Israel could be completely destroyed.   (If you don’t know the story, check out Joshua 10, especially verse 12.)

As a believer in a “audacious faith,” Furtick isn’t afraid to make audacious comments like:

If you’re not daring to believe God for the impossible, you’re sleeping through some of the best parts of your Christian life.

I love that one.

He also talks about a concept he calls “page 23 vision;” an idea taken from his own cathartic moment reading page 23 of Jim Cymbala’s book Fresh Wind Fresh Fire.   (Just a few days ago, I blogged a quotation from page 50 of the same book.)

Like the book Radical by David Platt (which I reviewed in June) I think that Sun Stand Still has the passion and energy to ignite many to invite God to do great things through them.   It’s just one of those books that comes around every three or four months; one that stands out above the crowd.

Steven Furtick is young, too; so this book will appeal to both adult and youth readers.   It’s also going to resonate with people who have perhaps lost a sight of a vision they need to rediscover.     I’ll have more to say on this at Thinking Out Loud as I get to the final pages…

June 29, 2010

I Cor. 1 (sort of)

This morning I began the day reading the first half of I Corinthians.   In the first chapter, I paused at verses 22-23:

22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles (NIV)

I noticed again the recurring conflict in scripture between grace and knowledge or between word and spirit; only in this case it’s between signs and wisdom.  The Jews expect to see signs and miracles, while the Greek mindset is to look for a philosophy that satisfies the rational mind.

I couldn’t resist a potential contemporary paraphrase:

People with a Charismatic leaning look for signs and wonders, and those with a Calvinist leaning look for great preaching and teaching; but we’re just sticking to the simple story of Christ’s death and resurrection.

Okay, it was stereotypes.   I’ll try to do better tomorrow.   Here’s how Eugene Peterson translates those two verses (plus a couple extra):

22-25While Jews clamor for miraculous demonstrations and Greeks go in for philosophical wisdom, we go right on proclaiming Christ, the Crucified. Jews treat this like an anti-miracle—and Greeks pass it off as absurd. But to us who are personally called by God himself—both Jews and Greeks—Christ is God’s ultimate miracle and wisdom all wrapped up in one. Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can’t begin to compete with God’s “weakness.”

« Previous Page