“Back to the future”
1 Corinthians 2:1-12 & Matthew 5:13-20
In his autobiography, one of the greatest AFL footballers of all time, revered not only by his own teams supporters, but by all remarked that often his dislike for playing was so great that before the game he would sometimes hide in the toilet cubicle in tears just wishing he could be anywhere but to where he was about to be, being in front of up to 100,000 football fans both admiring and in disbelief of what this man was capable of doing on the footy field.
A man revered by all, yet a man torn within himself who remarked that if it wasn’t for his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, would most certainly not have “made it out alive”.
This is the wisdom of God that Paul talks about in today’s reading from 1st Corinthians. The wisdom of God up and against the wisdom of the world. The wisdom that Paul, then still known as Saul had the full authority to preach and teach, because it was the wisdom he had felt and knew first hand when as a man of high esteem and power and as Acts tells us, “was breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples (and so) went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem…yet as he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him and he fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
A terrifying moment, but even more so, that when struck down with blindness by the Lord became like a little child who had to rely on others to lead him, fend for him and care for him. Three days later, after who knows what would have gone through his head his sight was restored that again he could see the majesty of a new day. A physical miracle, yet a miracle that pales into insignificance compared to that which had brought him to see the truth of the shining light of Christ.
The light and truth of Christ followed by this man Paul, who once revered by his Jewish colleagues, now stands before the Corinthian church while both being violently opposed by those once were admirers, and regard of him as weak, foolish and powerless.
From riches to rags and under the constant threat of, and often realisation of being beaten, bashed, and insulted, here stands Paul professing his testimony to any that will listen. His testimony of God proclaimed not with lofty speech or of earthly wisdom, but proclaimed by the gift of the Holy Spirit his testimony of knowing nothing other than Jesus Christ and Him crucified. His message for others that they too not rest in the wisdom of the world, but in the power of God.
And though Paul who in his own words is “in weakness, fear and much trembling”, and “the greatest of sinners”, ironically has found peace. Not the worldly peace which is merely the absence of trouble, but biblical peace. The peace of Christ that is not related to circumstances, but His peace that be we be in the midst of great trials and hardships is still there up holding and sustaining us.
This is the peace of Christ in which we live and the peace of that in today’s Gospel that Christ tells us to take to the world and let shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Two years ago after being ordained as a pastor, I had a terrifying realisation, I was a pastor. That, though in itself was nothing short of a miracle, I knew it to be true because I had the certificate. The greater miracle was that on that day, the 4th of December 2011 I became a man of virtue, goodness and love. Problem was that as they didn’t give me a certificate of that, I found myself facing up to the fact that far from shining my light into the world of good deeds and great character, I may indeed need to hide my deeds and inner self under the very basket that the Lord says not to, and so confused I rang a fellow pastor who I knew very well and asked of how to handle this predicament I found myself. Too which he responded and to whom you can now blame for the predicament you have now found yourself placed, was “to just be myself”.
That can be an interesting light to show.
Tonight on T.V. there is a show “documenting” the life and times of Inxs and their lead singer Michael Hutchence and from what I’ve seen and read, Michaels light of charisma, talent and kindness shone bright, as to did the light of his substance abuse, sex and self-disregard.
Though it seems his life was a contradiction of both light and darkness, and though I do not know his spiritual standing, in co-writing these lyrics it would seem that he knew of the true light of which our Lord tells us to let shine:
“This is the power
Since time began
Every single hour
That we have known….
Shine like it does
Into every heart
Shine like it does
And if you’re looking
You will find it…
This is the story
Since time began
There will come a day
When we will know”
Michael was a man of rare musical genius but to judge his light to the world would be like judging mine to our parish and maybe even your good works to and for society. A mixed bag that I would suggest would leave us in a precarious position should they be the defining factor in bringing others to give glory to the Father who is in heaven.
The power since time began, every single hour that we have known that shines as it does into every heart is not that of us, but of Christ and most certainly, as Christ himself did when he walked this earth, we are show charity, kindness and love.
But the true and perfect light and the good works of today’s gospel that we are to show to the world that they to come to know God is that of Christ.
Our light and good deeds that we take to others is our confession of the truth of what we like Paul, have come to know for ourselves.
The truth of not what we think or argue over in our minds, not the truth of our human logic, but the clear and un movable truth of Christ and His message of the Gospel that is not part of, but the entirety of the power to bring those placed before us to know the Lord and His peace.
Our good works and deeds are our testimony to the truth that though born of worldly sin and falling constantly to its charms and its persuasive ways, it does not condemn. For when we knew Him not, the Lord came to us that as He was to die on a cross, so too our sins so that as He was raised to life eternal, so too in Him are we. And that we still fall to sin and hear those condemning judgments from the devil and our own logic of being not good enough and needing to earn our salvation, we discard them for the lies they are and listen not to ourselves, but to Christ himself who has told us, that though you still fall to sin you need not despair. For on the cross I gave my life you. And in faith in Christ alone as the one who has brought the gifts of forgiveness, salvation and eternal life, those gifts are now yours.
The truth of Christ is our peace in this world and our light to the world, for in him the scriptures tells us not to wonder of our last day, but to know that this day, that today in faith, belief and trust in Christ you have received eternal life, and that having accepted Christ, He has promised:
“that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
And though be we in weakness, fear and much trembling, or of power and authority”, our true peace is not of that which is merely the absence of trouble, but in the presence of our Lord who though we see Him not, walks with us, holding and sustaining us in faith that though like the thief on the cross we see His paradise not, we hear His words for ourselves and know them to be true in the present as much as they are in the future, that “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise”. Amen.