We're meant to find ultimate satisfaction not in our own worldly standing, but in who we are in Christ, and in what He’s accomplished on our behalf.
The Apostle Paul continued to build on those concepts as he wrapped up the first chapter in his letter to the Corinthian Church. This morning, lets look together to the Scripture, and discover what we can learn about our calling as disciples of Jesus.
Alright. Beginning in verse 26, Paul writes:
1 Corinthians 1:26–31 (ESV) - 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
In essence, this whole passage is about the concept of “calling.”
Maybe you’ve heard folks in the church talk about being “called” to do things before. “Called to be a pastor.” “Called to be a missionary.” “Called to be a church planter.” Now, all of these types of ministry are gifts from God, legitimate roles that we affirm and support.
Of course, God may lead individuals to serve in specific ministries. (And I’m glad He does!)
But, the kind of calling we’re talking about in this passage is actually something different. The thing the Bible presents here is not something that is exclusive to the spiritual leaders within the church.
In actuality, if you’re a follower of Christ, YOU have been called. You’ve been called out of being dead in your sins and trespasses, and into new life through faith in Jesus Christ. You’ve been called to a life of faithfulness, discipleship, and Great Commission work.
You don’t have to be an elder/pastor, a deacon, a missionary, or have some other title in order to have been called by God.
You simply have to be a Christian – a follower of Jesus --- because every Christian, by definition, been called by God.
And Paul says, CONSIDER your calling. Think about it. Recognize that it exists, and that it is GLORIOUS, and that it is HOLY:
1 Corinthians 1:26 (ESV) - 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
Not many of us WERE wise, at least not according to the world. Not many of us have large amounts of power, or nobility. We may have some influence here and there, through business, or government, or military rank... But none of us are kings.
By and large, we come from fairly humble beginnings. We’re ordinary people.
Yet God is pleased to use ordinary people to accomplish EXTRAORDINARY things...
So, consider your calling! And consider what God wants to use you as an individual, and as a collected church, to do.
Paul goes on to explain a little bit about just what that looks like in verses 27-29:
1 Corinthians 1:27–29 (ESV) - 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
This may sound familiar if you were with us last week; it’s the same concept: God’s Wisdom, vs Man’s.
Not many of us were wise according to the world. Instead, we were foolish. But He CHOSE us, in order to shame those who declare themselves wise. He chose to use us, who are ordinary, who trust in the Gospel of Jesus, and are willing to share it freely and without reservation, to tear down the pride and arrogance of those who prop themselves up as higher than the Lord.
God uses the low, those who have no power, to challenge those who have much.
God uses the things that don’t make sense to the world, to challenge, and even to confuse the world...
He does these things, all so that, in the end, it’s abundantly clear that salvation is solely something that comes from Him.
29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
God’s plan of salvation is truly amazing. The creator of all things heroically comes to the rescue of the creation who rejected him, by means of great love and personal sacrifice. It’s poetic and it’s beautiful.
Yet, once in a while, we who have come to saving faith in Christ, develop an attitude about our salvation that is anything but beautiful. We become very man-centered, as opposed to Christ-centered. Whether we’d ever admit it aloud or not, we almost see ourselves as deserving of God’s grace; as if we earned it through our religion and faith. Like we somehow deserve God’s grace because we read the Bible and pray and go to church, when the truth is, we read the Bible, and pray, and are part of a church family as an outpouring of thankfulness and obedience because of what Christ has done.
If this subtle shift happens in our thinking, where we act as if we deserve God’s grace, it almost inevitably follows that eventually we start acting like other people – people who aren’t living for Christ – don’t. And that’s dangerous. That’s where the old phrase “Holier than Thou” comes from. Folks who have received grace, but forget to give it.
So, here’s the reality check: Scripture makes it abundantly clear that salvation is of the Lord!
It’s something that we cannot obtain for ourselves, and something that we cannot earn from God. It’s simply a gift of grace. Paul puts it this way in his letter to the Ephesian church:
Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV) - 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Salvation is a gift. This is not your own doing; you’re called to it by the redemptive will of God. Because of this Glorious truth, we don’t boast in ourselves. We don’t look down on others. We don’t get holier than thou.
Instead... we boast in Jesus, for all he’s done on our behalf!
Verses 30-31 explain exactly what that is:
1 Corinthians 1:30-31 (ESV) - 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
There’s actually a shift here... Paul had told us to CONSIDER OUR CALLING... That not many of us WERE wise, etc., however now because of God we ARE IN CHRIST JESUS.
Our calling, in it’s purest form, is to be IN CHRIST. To trust by faith in His perfect work on our behalf, and to dwell in the completion of that work, growing more mature as a disciple each day.
It is JESUS who became to us:
Christ Jesus has accomplished all of this for us! He continues to actively intercede in the lives of His people! He guides our steps. He provides for our needs. He blesses us, encourages us, and even corrects us when we need it.
All while continuing, as the Sovereign King of Kings, to oversee all that comes to pass in the world, working all things together for His glory, and our good.
So what is our proper response to the God who gave His own life, and rose again, so that we might be forgiven of sin, renewed in relationship with Him, and walk in light of His goodness?
I said it earlier: We’re meant to boast in Jesus!
Not in our selves, but in Him. His goodness, His grace, His mercy, and His provision.
For some of us, that may not be too hard a thing to do when things are going well. Something great happens, and we instinctively, and genuinely think and say “Hey, Praise God! That’s wonderful!”
But can you also have that attitude when we’re facing hard times? Can you take joy in Christ? And even thank God for the opportunity to boast in Him?
James 1:2-3 (ESV) - 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
We’re meant to boast in Him, even during those trials. We’re meant to take Joy in Christ, even then things are rough, because it’s in those times when the faith that we have is able to be stretched, exercised, and grown.
The difficult seasons are when God wants us to trust in Him the most.
So boast in Him. Loudly. Proudly. Knowing that the God who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Okay... Now, on the other hand, what about those who aren’t so quick to boast in Christ at all? In the good times or the bad? I know that there are almost certainly folks here this morning who identify as Christians, yet simply don’t talk about Jesus, and the message of the Cross, at all when they leave services here each week. And to be blunt, that’s a problem.
So here’s my question for folks who fit that description... WHAT DO YOU BOAST IN MOST?
What is it that you’re happy to verbalize your support for?
This illustration is a week late, but I know last Sunday I heard people who were all kinds of excited for the Super Bowl saying “Go Broncos!” and “Go Panthers!”.
Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with that... unless you’re more excited about football than you are about Jesus.
If talking about your favorite sports team, or your favorite political candidate, or your favorite tv show, or musician, or whatever gets you more excited than Christ and His Gospel does... Then you need to repent, and ask God to change your heart.
Now, please hear me: Those things, in and of themselves, are great! I’m not suggesting that we should be isolated and withdraw from culture. On the contrary, I believe the church should be leading the way in shaping the culture.
But, consider your calling, Brothers and Sisters. Your calling to NEW LIFE in Christ Jesus. Your calling to the great commission work of making disciples. The calling that each and every one of us who profess faith in Jesus is a part of. And answer the question: What do you boast in most? May our answer be now, and always, that we boast in our Savior, Jesus, and the hope of salvation found only in Him.