A sermon idea based on 1 Corinthians 2:1-16.
1 Corinthians 2:1-16 NRSV
 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom.  For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.  And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.  My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power,  so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.
 Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish.  But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.  None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”—  these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.  For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.  And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual.
 Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.  Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny.  “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
The relevant topic I would be addressing, based on this text…
God invites us to see the world from a spiritual, cosmic perspective, but we must be humble enough to listen, open to learning new truths, and willing to adapt to what he shows us.
The heart of the message, a potential outline, key truths to share, special notes for interpreting the text, etc.
Most people tend to coast through life using the five basic human senses: sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. And whatever our minds perceive through those senses, we interpret using the framework built inside our brains by our education and experiences.
Each of us has a way of thinking about the world that is shaped by all that we’ve been taught and all the examples we’ve seen. Our viewpoints are formed by what Dr. Catherine Meeks calls our “inner community.” It’s that place in our souls where our conscience, our subconscious selves, our ancestry, and all that we have learned from our surrounding cultures convene to advise us about what we’re experiencing in each moment.
And most of us are content to get through life the best we can by leaning into this existing inner community.
But God invites us to a depth we could never experience without him by allowing His Spirit to indwell us and to take the lead in this chorus of voices in our minds. Paul says, at the end of this passage, that we can share the very mind of Christ. We can be led by the same Spirit that led Jesus. We can enjoy the fruitful kind of life only possible when God himself takes up residence in the temple of our mind.
In other words, God invites us to receive his Spirit and to allow him to lead us to new depths of understanding all of life. And it is only when we accept that invitation that we begin to understand what’s really happening in the world from a cosmic, zoomed-out perspective.
How do we live at this new depth? Paul gives us some keys.
1. Listen with humility.
Paul begins the passage by contrasting his approach to that of the rhetoricians and orators well-known to the Corinthian believers. Plato and Socrates had already lived and died and their influence had multiplied through generations of philosophers who were elevated in the eyes of their community because of their ability to be persuasive.
The Corinthians could visit local gathering places to hear the speeches of a dozen competing thinkers, all of whom took great pride in their particular way of seeing and understanding the world.
And Paul is clear: I’m not like them. I’m not here to impress you. I don’t care if you like me. I don’t care if you think I’m good at this or not. I just want you to hear from God’s Spirit and that happens best when you are less impressed with me and more impressed with how God is dealing with you in the temple of your own mind.
Pride will always get in the way of our going deeper with God, so Paul leads by example by humbling himself.
If you want to live a deeper life, get over yourself. Realize you don’t have all the answers. Know your own limitations. You’ve seen but a sliver of the world and its story, so if you want to see from a higher perspective, you absolutely must be open to the influence of an eternal, all-knowing God who has been present with humanity from the very beginning.
2. Question what you think you know.
We like to idealize common sense, as though the smartest way to live is by trusting conventional wisdom and using our human powers of logic. But Paul challenges all of that.
He lets us know that the way the world collectively thinks still falls far short of understanding life from God’s cosmic perspective. That means that any body of knowledge constructed by mankind must be seen as fallible and faulty and limited.
In our age, in particular, we tend to hang onto our worldview with a sense of absolute certainty, but our need for certainty is a modern, western, post-Enlightenment way of thinking.
Paul seems to prod us to welcome the questions that flood our minds when we see conventional wisdom’s limitations.
3. Adopt Jesus’ way of thinking as your own.
Jesus seemed to see the world from an upside-down perspective. His way of thinking was revolutionary. A quick reading of his Sermon on the Mount demonstrates his ability to challenge social norms.
You’ve heard it said… but I say to you…
And best of all, Jesus continually points back to the ancient Hebrew scriptures as a container of wisdom available for generations but misunderstood and misused.
As it is written…
Jesus’ pattern was:
- Here’s what everyone tends to think about this subject,
- But I’m here to flip that upside-down,
- For the scriptures really teach us something totally different.
Divorce. Anger. Forgiveness. Violence. Judgment. Giving. Prayer. Fasting. And on and on, one subject after another, Jesus teaches us how to think differently.
And according to Paul, the very same Spirit that led Jesus will lead us, if we’re willing to listen humbly, challenge what we think we know, and obediently adopt his way of thinking as our own.
It takes more than a lifetime to grow into this new mind and God offers us all of eternity if we’re willing to simply start the journey.
The big call-to-action in the message…
God is inviting you into a depth of understanding you’ve never experienced so you can see him, yourself, and your world in a way that is ever-changing and renewing. But you must be willing to lay down any idea that you have all the answers and begin to hear the scriptures and see God at work in new, fresh, and almost always challenging ways.
About the Cover Art: Photo by Norbert Kundrak on Unsplash.