5th Sunday after Epiphany
1 Corinthians 2:1-16
"Show not Tell"
Dear fellow ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ,
grace and peace to you from the creator of salt and light
and the crucified Christ. Amen
Today’s texts are a call to action,
reading after reading we heard God’s call to us
to be active in our partnership with God.
First we heard the prophetic voice of Isaiah
rousing the Israelites out of their complacency,
in their exile
they were relying only on sacrifice and fasting
to relate to God
and in the voice of the prophet
we hear God telling them,
“ sacrifice and fasting might work for those pagan gods around you
but I expect more from our relationship,
I expect our relationship to leave the place of worship
and impact all your relationships:
This is the fast, the way of that I prefer
that you loose the bonds of injustice
undo the thongs of the yoke
let the oppressed go free,
if you want to be in relationship with me
share your bread with the hungry
bring the homeless poor into your house,
and when you see the naked cover them,
mend broken relationships in your family,
then you will see the glory of the Lord. “
It is time to put faith into action
The psalmist reminded us
that righteousness is the antidote to fear.
We get distracted by all the opinions around us,
what will people think? we worry,
but when it comes down to it
the only one we have to answer to is God,
if we live in a way that is pleasing to God,
that is righteous,
we have nothing to fear.
Paul came to the Corinthians
not with lofty words but with a demonstration of the spirit.
Jesus calls us to let our light shine.
Actions speak louder than words today,
it’s time to show not tell.
This was Paul’s strategy with the Corinthians
and it worked.
He’s reminding them of this today,
a divided community
parts of whom have been lured away
by people who have impressed them with fancy speeches
but what made them part of the community in the beginning
was the power of God,
a power they felt so strongly
that they chose to join this minority group of believers,
outside the mainstream,
often outside the protection of family
that didn’t understand what they were doing and cut them off.
You don’t give up your inheritance and place in society
for fancy sounding words,
there is more going on than that
it is the power of God at work.
Paul recalls to the divided Corinthians
that through grace,
God has redeemed them
and called them to be partners in the spread of the gospel
and that this is the purpose that unites them,
through the saving power of God.
Paul acknowledges to the Corinthians
that according to the reasoning of the world
the message of God is foolishness
but since God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom
just as God’s weakness is stronger than human strength
we are called to act foolishly in our partnership with God
depending on the power of God
to work through us to spread the good news.
Paul came to the Corinthians in weakness
and the power of God shone through,
allowing Paul to show rather than tell
the life changing message.
Showing works much better than telling
this is our call as Christians.
Jesus puts it even more succinctly
at the end of the sermon on the mount.
Be who you were created to be.
If you are salt be salty,
if you are light, illumine what is around you,
that is how you honor God.
Now to be clear
this call to action isn’t about salvation
or getting right with God,
this is not works righteousness,
the thought that if we work hard enough
or do enough good or pray in the right way or make sacrifices
that we will fix things.
We don’t have that kind of power,
salvation is up to God and God has saved us.
Past tense on going action, that’s taken care of.
And it’s not about the prosperity gospel
the lie that says if you pray in the right way
or give enough or go to the right church
that God will bless you with lots of money and power and things.
God just doesn’t work like that either.
It’s about being who we were created by God to be.
Children of God,
made out of love for love
each endowed by God with unique gifts and talents.
If you are salt season,
if you are light illumine what is around you,
how can you do otherwise?
It seems simple
and yet the way of the world
is the way of distraction,
of tempting and telling us to be more than we were created to be-
this was the serpent’s method in the garden,
tempting our first people
with the thought that they could be more than God
the world whispers in our ears saying
you could do more,
make more money, gain more power
if you cut out that time waste called sabbath
other times the world tells us to be less than we were created to be
the Israelites were slaves in Egypt,
told that they were only good for making bricks.
Did anyone believe that fishermen and tax collectors
in a backward province of the Roman empire could change the world?
Why would anyone listen to you? You’re only________
God knows it is hard to hear through all the noise,
that is why even as God calls us to action,
God also calls us to rest,
and so while we must act,
we also must take the time to listen to the Holy Spirit,
to discover our God given gifts,
to take Sabbath and quiet the voices of the world
so that when we return to action
it is for the sake of God through who we are.
And God has given us the gifts to help us on the way
the holy spirit to help us understand, discern, who we are
the waters of baptism
to remind us who we are
and that we are in need of God’s grace,
the bread and wine of the table
to strengthen us
and remind us that we are enough,
enough to take the body and blood of Christ into our own bodies.
God calls us to action,
the action of being who God has made us to be,
We have been taking some time to listen to the Holy Spirit as a congregation,
we have heard how we are children of God,
we are a community that cares for one another like family,
who is willing to spring into action,
we have heard that we have been called
to be partners in God’s foolishness,
now the question is:
how do we live out who we are?
How do we live in a way that shows others the power of God at work in our lives?
in a way that invites others into shared life with us?
These are not just rhetorical questions, Take a couple moments with the people around you and talk and write some ideas down that will help us form our mission statement which will be our action plan for showing the world who God created us to be.
The congregation took some time to discuss the questions, if you have any thoughts feel free to post them in the comment section. The answers will be used to help us write our new mission statement.
Pastor Emily Johnson preaches weekly at Christ Lutheran. These are manuscripts of her sermons given at Christ Lutheran. Feel free to engage with them in the comments section of the blog.