Reflections: August 7, 2020
Friday of the Eighth Week after Trinity
By Joel Shaltanis
For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. It isn't easy to be a Christian. People are openly hostile toward us. This is nothing new, as we see in 1 Corinthians. Paul writes: "The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing." The root Greek word here is moros, from which we derive the English word, "moron." This is what many in Paul's day thought of Christians, especially the Greeks and Jews! "But we preach Christ-crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles." For Jews, the idea of a crucified Messiah was an utter contradiction. They thought the Messiah would be a powerful leader like Moses or David. They couldn't understand how an executed criminal could be the promised Messiah. Likewise, Gentiles thought it pure folly, for they loved philosophy and great learning and were also impressed with power.
The hostile reaction to our crucified Lord, both then and now, shouldn't surprise us. We know that we couldn't believe it either, were it not for the working of the Holy Spirit. As the catechism says, "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength, believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel…" The Word of God not only says things, it does things. The Law accuses us of sin, brings about shame and remorse, and leads us to turn to God for help. Then the Word of the Cross, the Gospel, comes as the greatest news: that God Himself has put our sin on Jesus, who willingly endured our punishment so we can be forgiven. While some think it folly, Christians know it has the power to save: "It pleased God through the ‘folly' of what we preach to save those who believe." This "foolish" preaching of a slain Savior has been the central message of the Christian Church from the beginning.
We should not get angry with those who think we are fools, for it is only on account of God's grace that we are not exactly like them. Certainly we shouldn't water down the message of our crucified Jesus to try and make it more attractive. Instead, the answer is to keep doing what faithful Christians have always done: to simply rely on the Word of the Cross, the message of Christ crucified. For to those who are being saved, it is the power of God. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Word eternal, throned on high, Word that brought to life creation, Word that came from heav'n to die, Crucified for our salvation, Saving Word, the world restoring, Speak to us, Your love outpouring. ("Word of God, Come Down on Earth" LSB 545, st.2)
-Rev. Joel Shaltanis is pastor of Lord of Life Lutheran Church, Plano, TX.
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