1 Corinthians 2:2. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
What if all Christians adopted this same rule for life? What if we all decided that the only thing we would speak about with certainty was the cross? No other dogmatic statements about religion. No more diatribes about politics. No opinions turned into declarations. What if all of our responses, reactions, and rants were filtered first through the cross of Christ?
The Christians in Corinth were looking for something beyond the cross of Christ. They were trying to mix their Christianity with an up and coming religious philosophy called Gnosticism. Gnosticism is salvation through knowledge. Eternal life by divine revelation. Gnostics separated the spiritual (good) from the physical (bad). They believed godliness comes from having greater and greater spiritual experiences, deeper and deeper knowledge, and all with very little concern for true active holiness or love. The result was a caste system for Christians that separated those with spiritual knowledge from those without it. And just like it does with us today, it resulted in all kinds of pride from being more “spiritual” or just plain smarter than everyone else. “I know what you don’t know. I have the complete truth and you don’t. I’m right and your wrong. I’m free in Christ to do whatever I want to do. And what I do with my body is no big deal.”
These super-spiritualist Hellenistic Christian in Corinth wanted what Paul refused to give them – a philosopher to woo them with mysteries and secret knowledge. Not someone coming into town in “fear and much trembling” (2:3). And definitely not a sweaty leather worker preaching about the messy death of Jesus. They wanted Christianity without the cross. In fact, it’s pretty clear they weren’t ever talking about the death of Jesus anymore. And why should they? They had amazing spiritual gifts and a whole lot of knowledge. So why confuse or offend people with a message about death and dying? Especially dying on a shameful cross.
But what they lacked in all of their “super-spirituality” was the true spirituality that is the cruciform life. The willingness to lay down our lives for one another. The power to get beyond selfishness and move toward each other in grace and humility. The wisdom to know how to be patient, and kind, and gentle, all from the freedom that comes in having already been crucified with Christ, and raised to new life in him.
The cross is what they desperately needed. Not morals or mysteries. Not principles or philosophy. They needed to understand their union with Christ and their union with one another. They needed to attach their story to THE story- the story of God’s sacrificial love for us revealed in Christ’s death and resurrection.
In a nutshell, they needed to stop resisting the Spirit.
Christian, the Spirit is not offering us any other power beyond the power of the cross. There is no spiritual experience waiting for us beyond our co-crucifixion with Jesus. The resurrection power of the Spirit in us is the power of the crucified life, the power of self-sacrifice, the power of selfless love. And this power is actually manifested in what will look like weakness and foolishness.
Paul came to Corinth in weakness, but by the Spirit that weakness became great power. The power of the cross. The power of love.
“To live is Christ” means there is only one thing we know for sure, and therefore, only one thing we can talk about with confidence – the cross. We don’t need anything beyond the ultimate reality of Christ crucified for us. No more answers. No more knowledge. No more experiences. Just knowing Christ and him crucified as our power for daily living and loving others.
Do you find yourself still looking for something from God beyond the cross?
You in Christ
Have you found your union with Christ to be all the knowledge you need to make it through the day?
Christ in you
What does it mean to you to live a “crucified life?”
Playlist: The Cross.
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