Rev. Tab Ottmers
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
A few names for you, Alexander the Great, Frederich the Wise, Elvis the King. People who are known for their accomplishments. These folks have a name that connects them to accomplishments any mother would be proud of. Accomplishments that identify. These names give us reasons why we should follow or listen to a person. This is the wisdom of men. This is how the world works. This is the way of the law. This is the way the Old Adam in us loves because it feeds our pride.
St. Paul writes to the Corinthians. They are people just like us. The Corinthians are impressed with lofty language, displays of wisdom. Think Plato, Aristotle and the like. These are people who based the truth of a message on how eloquent the speaker was or how the speaker made them feel. A reputation followed. A person identified by their accomplishments.
These last few days you have seen this too! Perhaps it was the long van ride here or the dreaded bus trip. You have met or gotten to know others by their accomplishments. You know, like John the stinky. Susan the babbler. Pastor the boring. Stacy the nerd. Brandon the jock. Yes we judge people according to how they make us feel. This is the wisdom of man. This is an identity from the law.
However, when we are on the receiving end it’s not always so great is it? To be identified by our accomplishments is not so great because the law ultimately shows us we are far from perfect. The very thing, the law, which promises us an identity, the very thing that promises us life, this law finally becomes our death in showing us our sin.
Someone points out how weak or unimpressive you are and it stings doesn’t it? Let’s be honest though, the things that people see, those outward things we maybe don’t even like about ourselves are nothing compared to what we harbor in our hearts! You may be able to restrain your lips in calling others out, but what about how you identify others in your heart?
Maybe you get upset at other when they point out your faults because it hits you too close to home. Too close to the truth you know in your heart that it’s not just that you are Daniel the shy, or Lucy the loud, but you are the sinner. The rebel against God.
You who because others aren’t as perfect as you. You who know and call others names because that is lofty language. Lofty language in a sense that it lifts you on a pedestal. That is a very attack on God who alone is to be worshipped. Our sin, that is the accomplishment we all know too well. Too often we trust in lofty speech, impressive displays of wisdom that enables us to celebrate ourselves. We look to comfort ourselves in the language of the law. Lofty language that trains and develops a faith in ourselves. Repent.
Stop looking at yourself! Look to Christ for your identity. For look where St. Paul points the Corinthians and us. Not to ourselves. Not to our words. Not to the law. Not in words of wisdom or lofty speech that impresses the world. We find our identity in Christ and him crucified. Our identity is in His accomplishment. Crucified for you! Crucified for your sins. Crucified for your love of the wisdom of men. Jesus Christ and him crucified for your sins. Not Jesus the wise. Not Jesus the cool. Not Jesus the popular, but Jesus Christ and him crucified. That is what our faith rests in. The power of God to die, to be crucified for you! To live the sinless life, to become your sin and be crucified.
Now through the crucifixion of Christ, his accomplishment, God sees you not according to your sinful life, not as Matthew the liar or Sally the adulterer. You are John the forgiven! Lisa the forgiven. Stephanie the forgiven. Your sins are forgiven! You are a child of God. That is your identity. Jesus Christ and him crucified for you. God identifies you with the accomplishments of Christ.
St. Paul says it like this, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” “As many of you who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”
You were in baptism put to death in Christ. Your old self that loves to find identity in the law was drowned and you were raised with a new identity, none other than the very identity of Christ. St. Paul bases the truth of his message on the identity of Christ and him crucified.
Christ now gives you a man, your pastor. Pastor the absolver. Pastor the forgiver. Pastor who stands with the authority of Christ forgiving your sins. He’s not someone who feeds you empty platitudes but someone who declares to you the reality of who you are in your baptism into Christ.
It is not your achievements or eloquent words of wisdom that identify you or make you God’s child. If that were the case we would all be lost forever. You have been baptized. You are absolved in Jesus Christ and him crucified, for you! Amen.