The kid with tattoos all over his body and nasty looking hair sells a couple hundred million CDs and downloads and then goes on television to tell me not to eat bacon because it is not humane. Somehow people eating pigs is a bad thing but stopping for some Kobe Beef on an Friday night is not.
And just who is standing up for all of the corn that is slaughtered every year?
The bombshell actress pleads for me to send money to Save the Western Sahara Sand Viper so that the ecology of the world is not jeopardized.
Don’t get me wrong, I have several causes and charities that I support.
George Clooney has something like 32 charities and 23 causes that he supports.
Most of you know that I am not a big Clooney fan. It’s not because of his movies. They are usually pretty good. It is because in 2009 he was voted People Magazines Sexiest Man Alive and he objected when I asked for a recount. A close second wasn’t good enough for me that year.
Many celebrities have dozens of causes and charities that they support and make television spots asking for our support.
There is nothing wrong with this, but I always wonder what makes the celebrity an authority on the charity they represent.
Usually they are not but they desire to use their influence as an actress or singer or rich person with frequent flier status in rehab to get us to support their cause.
Why should I listen to them?
These people usually have some appeal that helped them acquire celebrity status. A smile that flashes glimpses of hope, a distinctive accent or meter to their voice, or something unexplainable that makes us watch their movies and buy their CDs.
Paul writes the church in Corinth and tells them that when he first came to them, he didn’t use gimmicks or fancy speeches or the style of the Greek orators who dominated the culture.
In fact he told them that he did not try to establish himself as a wise or credible person who should be received as an expert in his field.
Whenever I go somewhere to speak, someone always gives me some sort of introduction. They may know me or they may have just jotted down some notes 2 minutes earlier, but people want to know why they should listen to this person who is going to have center stage for the next few minutes or few hours.
The standing rule is that if you drove 100 miles or more to give a talk, then you are automatically and expert. That’s enough by itself. A couple times I arrived early at places and just did laps around the parking lot until I had the mileage required for expert status.
Paul tells the church that the message he brought had nothing to do with him. It was the message of Christ and a message of good news. In fact, Paul did his best to divest himself of credentials so that the message received would not be tainted by worldly argument or qualification.
For all of the things that Paul could have claimed to his credit, being an Apostle sent by the Lord Jesus Christ to proclaim the gospel was all that he clung to in order to make sure it was the message itself that people heard.
That is not to say that at other times, Paul did not use his status as a Jew and Pharisee or even as a Roman citizen to advance the gospel or reach a certain group. But for the church in Corinth the message of truth came without the credentials of the messenger.
The mighty works that would follow would be the result of the Holy Spirit and the gospel itself.
I have been to a Billy Graham event once. I have listened to him on television several times. About half the time, I fall asleep in his sermons. I don’t remember much of what he said or have something to take away to work on during the week.
But at every event, thousands come out of the stands to give their life to Christ. I had to look up his education, which did not begin with bachelors of anything. It began with a diploma from the Florida Bible Institute. Over the past 60 years, it has become Trinity Bible College. He later received a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Wheaton College.
If I was going to a Billy Graham event, I would be underwhelmed by his credentials.
But every time he preaches the gospel, people come to Christ. The good news and the Holy Spirit do all that is required to bring one out of blindness into life. The Spirit and the gospel bring people from death to life.
Paul tells this congregation that their belief is rooted in the testimony of the Christ and the revelation of the Holy Spirit. A person of the world will not understand. A person governed by worldly wisdom and worldly authority is dead. They have yet to realize life.
But those who have life in Christ also have the Spirit and the Spirit reveals things of God that the carnal man cannot know.
Had God’s truth been revealed to everyone, no one would have dared to send the Son of God to the cross.
But to the one who has received God’s Spirit, much has been revealed. The things that we know that come from the Spirit don’t make sense to those who live in the spirit of the world.
God’s Spirit has revealed much mystery to us. We may never fully comprehend the thoughts and the ways of God, at least while we wrestle in these temples of flesh.
But we have the mind the mind of Christ. We have the thoughts, teachings, ways, affirmations, blessings, and promises that come from Christ.
We who live in the Spirit know how to live in this time and in this age because we have the mind of Christ.
But we wrestle with giving the mind of Christ dominion in our lives. Too often our carnal mind knows of life and salvation in Christ but will not yield to him as Lord, and desires us to instruct God. We want God to consider a better way.
Just this once, Lord, let’s do this my way and see if it doesn’t come out better for both of us.
Paul reminds us that no human wisdom will correlate and compete with the divine way. We are to trust in God and not our own understanding.
It is the message not the messenger that brings us to God.
It is the Logos—the Word that we know as Christ.
It is the Logos—the divine Message from God.
Life comes through Christ alone.
But then we come to this thing called discipleship. We contend with what it is to follow Jesus.
Paul tells us that we have the mind of Christ.
We are blessed today to have a Bible with 66 books guiding us and speaking to us as words that are living and active.
These same words are useful for teaching and training, even correcting and admonishing us in our life choices.
We have the Spirit, and we are spiritual and know how to apply God’s wisdom to our experiences.
In the word of God that we call the Bible, we have guidance to navigate this world.
In the Spirit we have the ability to judge and discern how to apply God’s wisdom to our experience. Some people don’t like the word judge because of the admonishments that go with it, but this is not the judging of condemning others. It is the judgment of our own choices, choices that trust God and his wisdom and his way and cause us to seek his kingdom and his righteousness.
It is not the judgment that finds a speck in the eye of our neighbor while ignoring the lumberyard in our own eyes.
It is the judgment that says; do not give what is holy to unholy pursuits. Do not use your gifts and talents to gratify your carnal nature but use them to bring glory to God.
And it is the Spirit that leads us to judge our own actions—to live in the truth—so that we are liberated from the judgment of others.
And we could all just shout Hallelujah and go home.
However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
People of the world can imagine a heaven or a hereafter or some place of rewards. Most of these images involve golf and chocolate and other pleasures of the world.
But Paul re-crafts Isaiah’s words just a bit and suggests to us that our mind cannot comprehend the wonderful things that God has dreamed up for us.
Now we might think, “I can dream a whole bunch.”
Paul says that not only has God conceived of these things but these things have been prepared for us. Only when we live in the Spirit do we get a glimpse of these things.
When we live in the Spirit we have eyes to see and ears to hear the wonder in store for us.
And as we go about our ministry, as we follow Jesus and help those that he called the least of these my brothers, we can see and hear what God has in store for us even as we minister in adverse circumstances.
This is not to say that we have a mindset that if we grind it out here on earth, someday we will have treasure in heaven. This is not the myopic vision of one with his nose to the grindstone.
It is to say that if we walk in the Spirit as we go into the world to proclaim life and liberty and as we minister to the least of these, in so doing we have a glimpse of what is to come. As we do our best to be light and love in the middle of addiction, poverty, and apathy, we can see beyond the present and present circumstances.
We have a glimpse of what only God can conceive for us.
The world says, if you do more good than bad—and you can grade yourself on a curve if needed—then if there is a heaven, you get in. The corollary of this is that all dogs go to heaven. No cats.
Paul says that life is in Christ and we can visualize that which our own minds can’t conceive when we give Jesus lordship and walk in the Spirit.
Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.
The Spirit connects our finite reality with the infinite goodness of God.
The song sings I can only imagine, but we can’t imagine the things that God has in store for those who love him.
Only the Spirit can reveal what we cannot conceive.
We are told that God uses all things for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose, but sometimes we forget that he has prepared something beyond what we can imagine for those who love him.
On those days when it just seems to be another day, walk in God’s Spirit and get a glimpse of what is in store for you.
On those days when the pain won’t go away, walk that pain away with the Holy Spirit showing you what God has planned just for you.
On those days when you just want to give up living God’s way, cast away your own words and your own thoughts and let your spirit surrender to God’s perfect Spirit and know that the journey is worthwhile.
On those days when you cannot contend with one more idiotic request, don’t throw in the towel. Throw open your arms and ask God’s Spirit to overwhelm you with a taste of what is to come.
On most days, we fair well.
On most days, the pain is tolerable.
On most days, we can handle what the world throws at us.
On most days, we can minister to the least of these with love in our hearts and joy in our soul.
On most days…
But for those other days, don’t surrender to the world. Surrender to God’s own Spirit, the Spirit that worked within you to believe and receive the gospel.
For God has walked and talked and dined and suffered and prayed and died as a man.
Jesus knows what we are going through and we have the mind of Christ to help us navigate the experiences of our life.
But our gracious, loving Father in heaven knows that sometimes we need a glimpse of what he has in store for us.
Surrender to his Spirit that walks beside us and will live within us and let the Spirit reveal what eye has not seen and ear has not heard and what may not enter our heart through the wisdom of the world.
Let the Spirit of God reveal what God has prepared for those who love him—what he has prepared for you.