It's Not About You
“It’s Not About You”
Text: I Corinthians 1:26-31
On a bed of grass, a chameleon’s skin turns green. On the earth, it becomes brown. The animal changes to match the environment. Many creatures blend into nature with God-given camouflage suits to aid their survival. It’s natural to fit in and adapt to the environment. But followers of Christ are new creations, born from above and changed from within, with values and life-styles that confront the world and clash with accepted morals. True believers don’t blend in very well.
The Christians at Corinth were struggling with their environment. Surrounded by corruption and every conceivable sin, they felt the pressure to adapt.
Allow me to paint a picture of the city of Corinth and the events surrounding the prompting of Paul to write letters to them.
Corinth was located on a narrow isthmus between the Aegean Sea and the Adriatic Sea. It was quite cosmopolitan. The athletic isthmian games that used to be held there drew large crowds and ranked second only to the Olympics. The outdoor theater accommodated twenty thousand people; the roofed theater, three thousand. Temples, like the temple of Aphrodite was so rich that it owned more than a thousand temple-slaves. Shrines, and altars dotted the city. Prostitution flourished. The south side of town was lined with taverns equipped with underground cisterns for cooling the drinks. There were liquor lockers with such names as “Security,” “Love,” and names of gods. Ship captains had a saying, “If you get the chance, don’t miss it,” speaking about any possible visit to the city of Corinth.
Corinth was noted for its debauchery: “To act like a Corinthian,” meant to practice immorality, and “Corinthian girl” meant the same as “prostitute”. Are you getting the picture? Corinth was not unlike any American big city today, especially Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New York City, and the like. Today, even our small and suburban cities could give Corinth a run for its money and morality. I know I’m right about it because the Super bowl half-time antics of Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake would have fit in nicely.
Now, this letter to the Corinthians was actually the second of four letters written by Paul to them. The first and the third letters were lost, so we are left with what is called First and Second Corinthians. Paul had spent about a year and a half in Corinth, living and working his trade of tent making with Aquila and Priscilla. Now, he writes back to the church that he had founded there from Ephesus during his third missionary journey.
The reason for the letter was to respond to oral reports that had come by the household of Chloe regarding contentions in the Corinthian church and a delegation from the church that had come to Ephesus with an offering and a letter asking Paul’s judgment on various problems; which brings us right to the point of our message today. There are three things that we want to note this morning about the church at Corinth and what Paul addressed to them:
§ The problem – that needs a solution
§ The power – that leads to the solution
§ The plug – that concedes the solution
The Problem: That needs a solution:
I have already given you a picture of the people of Corinth. The major problem that Paul is addressing is that the church had allowed the same thought patterns and many of the practices of the world to come into the church and to dominate their way of thinking. I know that you might not be able to fathom this, so let me explain. You see, on the one hand, the people in the church at Corinth were evangelistic; culturally relevant; expressive and celebratory in worship; wealthy; and cultured, well versed in Christian liberty.
But on the other hand, they were drowning in the applications of moral relativism. They were prattling fools, always babbling, ranting, and talking gibberish and nonsense. They were divided around personalities, or in personality cults as it were; divided around priorities and personal interest; they lacked discipline in moral matters and actually flaunted it as a source of pride; they were full of pride in preachers rather than in the God that the preachers presented; they had extensive Bible knowledge and were prideful of their friends at church; they considered themselves to be God’s people and saved by grace, but reasoned that they were therefore untouchable in the misapplication of the truth and indulgence in neo-morality. All of these things lent to their “problem”. There was a glitch, a setback, difficulty, obstruction, questions, crises, a quandary about their practices as a church of the true and living God.
That was their problem. What is your problem today? What is keeping you in perpetual setback; in wonderment and questioning of your standing with God; what has you in a dilemma about the authenticity of your faith; what is obstructing a clear pathway between you and God today? What are those things that keep coming to your mind that you just have not dealt with? What is presenting a challenge that you are not ready to accept? What is your problem?
The Power: That leads to the solution:
The church at Corinth, at least many in the church knew that they had a problem; and they knew that they needed to engage a source of power to overcome their problems. Their mistake was in thinking that the power that they needed could be found within.
First of all, they began to rely upon their spiritual pedigree that led to hero worship. The admirers of Paul were loyal to him because he founded the church at Corinth. That would be the equivalent to resisting any changes in New Hope suggested by the Pastor because you are stuck on the vision that the original Pastor had 50 years ago.
Others admired Apollos and were spellbound by his intellect and eloquence of speech. Beside that, he was probably just plain “fine”. I think you can get my drift without further explanation. Some people will just flock to certain teachers or preacher because of the way they look or the impressive words they use. It makes them feel smarter and better looking to be in the company of folk like that. You know, its like saying the better you look and the better you speak, then the more you must know, so I’ll just hang with you. I might not understand what you’re saying, but I just like the way you say it and the way you look when you say it.
And still others followed Cephas (Peter) because he was the foremost original apostle. Peter has been at this longer, so he knows what he’s talking about. He can tell you things that no one else knows. There is wisdom in age.
And last, many who followed Christ did not want to be involved in squabbles, so they withdrew in an attitude of superior spirituality. “I’m not arguing with those people. I’m more mature that they. I don’t have time for that; I know who I am and I don’t have to prove it to anyone.”
All are personality cults. All of these attitudes lead to disunity in the church. None of these attitudes were powerful enough to lead to a solution of the problem.
Their spiritual pedigree; nor their smooth and relevant words; nor their individual interests; not their ability nor qualification; not their strength nor their position were powerful enough. Power is no good unless you find a way to plug into it.
The Plug: That concedes the solution:
It doesn’t matter how beautiful a lamp; it matters not how capable an iron; and it makes no difference how wide the T.V. screen – if the cords attached to them, the cords that can transmit the power is not plugged into the power source, they will not work!
Watch this: Here is an electrical cord. It has two ends – one a plug and one a receptor, but both ends are on the same cord. If I insert the plug into the receptor, I get no power. I am not shocked; I am not enlightened; I am not straightened out; I am not changed. If, on the other hand, I insert the plug into the proper power socket, the cord will become alive with power flowing thru it; it will contain life, we say it’s live. But not only that, if I then insert another plug in the socket on the other end, that power will be transmitted and shared with another dead thing to enliven it.
This is an electrical cord, but in and of itself it has no power. As long as it stands along; as long as the lamp stands along; as long as the wide screen T.V. stands along, there is disunity. But when the electrical cord plugs into the proper power source and shares it’s juice with the lamp and the wide screen T. V. things begin to liven up; lights shine, TV’s show beautiful colors, all give varying types of light to otherwise dark rooms. You see, it’s not about the fact that the electrical cord is a chandler of electricity. In and of itself, it is useless. It’s not about the cord! It’s about the power source. It can’t be any power source. It has to be the power source that has the ability, the right, the clout, the entitlement and the strength to charge the electrical cord.
You need to know that there are two types of plugs. One type can be used as a stopper like a cork. It will restrict the flow of life giving juices from reaching the object, or the juice will be weak and eventually cause the object to wither and die. That plug will lead to death, to hell and to the grave. That is a plug that is trying to produce life under it’s own wisdom or works.
Then there is the plug that leads to an opening, that is truly the source of energy or life. It is connected to the right socket; it maintains an opening and allows its juices to freely flow to other sources; It will often publicize its power as you can easily see the fruit of its labor. This plug will lead to heaven and life eternal. Christ is this plug and He has publicized His genuineness in His death, burial and resurrection.
In the same manner, “It’s not about you”. You are not the source. It doesn’t matter what you know or don’t know. It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do. It’s not about where you serve or how you serve; and it’s not about what you have or don’t have. It’s all about Jesus. He alone is the source.
Christ educates us for He is our wisdom – we come to knowledge of Him, understanding and truth only by His grace – all we have to do is respond by believing.
Christ immaculates us for He is our righteousness – It’s His blood that covers us so that God the Father can look at us and by His grace call us right, see us as faultless; and make us complete and declare that we’re all right in His book.
Christ consecrates us for He is our sanctification. He sets us apart for good works unto Himself and He will approve us in eternity.
Christ emancipates us for He is our redemption. He has paid the price for our redemption. He has purchased us from the slave block of sin. He bought us back with His blood. He has set us free – to serve Him. Whom the Son has set free – is free in deed.
I don’t know where you are today, but wherever it is, I just came to tell you, “It’s not about you”. I don’t know: you may be in a place in your life where you’re trying to figure things out as they relate to God, you know, trying to see the big picture to understand before you commit to Him, well, it’s not about you and whether you can make sense out of Him. I believe that He said He has fixed it so that the base things would confuse the wise, so no matter how bright you think you are, you can’t figure God out, you just have to trust Him. If you could figure Him out, them your salvation would be due in part to your genius, but God will not share His glory with another, so you have to come like a dumb sheep and just trust Him.
Wherever you are today in life, Paul had one central message. It was applicable to the Church at Corinth, and it is applicable today: It is time to submit and commit to Christ because it’s not about you, or your thoughts, or successes, or what you think you know, or who you rub elbows with, or anything that has to do with you. It’s all about Jesus.
You see Christ paid a high price in order for you to have the freedom t ponder over Him, in order for you to have the freedom to push Him aside and chase after your own dreams. Not only did it cost Christ all, He also paid it all. So, no matter where you are or where you’re trying to go, if your focus, if your determination, if our goal is not Jesus, you are paying the wrong master.
If you’re blending in with the world’s environment all week, and then sitting among the saints on Sunday, somebody is making a fool out of you because you can’t two-time God. He’s not a wishy-washy God that is willing to take whatever you decide you want to shove His way. He paid it al land He wants it all. He wants your full recognition that it’s all about Him. He is both the power source and the plug that can supply all your need. It’s not your individual efforts, it’s not your wisdom and knowledge, it’s not your friends; it’s not how much time your spend at the church; it’s not where you work or how much you earn; it’s not your neighborhood or any of the people you know; it’s not about you.
It’s all about Jesus. Jesus, who without hesitation laid aside His glory and stepped out of eternity into time; Jesus, who fashioned himself into the form of a human and subjected himself to ridicule and rejection; Jesus, who left the riches of heaven that are beyond our imagination to be born in an inn and laid in an animal’s manger; Jesus, who was falsely accused and wrongly tried, yet without a defense or utterance so as not to sidetrack his purpose of coming to earth; Jesus, who came to die for us who could never be good enough, yet often times too bad to know it; Jesus, crucified like a criminal on a cross, nailed with 8-10 inch Roman nails in his hands and feet, crowned with thorns, stripped of his clothing and offered vinegar to satisfy his thirst; Jesus, who in the midst of dying an unjust death, paused to guarantee eternal life and paradise to a dying thief next to him; Jesus, buried in a borrowed tomb only to rise again from the dead after three days and nights as promised. Can’t you see, it’s all about Jesus?
Story of 2nd cancer: