Home > Uncategorized > Examining Paul’s Letters to the Americans? Part 1

Examining Paul’s Letters to the Americans? Part 1

I know. The title’s provocative. It was meant to be.

Here’s a question that I’m pondering. Are evangelical Christians today comparable to the Corinthians that Paul addressed in his letters? I can’t help but feel that most of the time when I’m reading and studying 1 and 2 Corinthians that Paul is addressing me and my generation as much as the Corinthians of his time.

From what I understand, the Corinthians were a lot like us. They were a cosmopolitan, worldly people that loved extravagance and flair. They were easily seduced by easy words and dazzling imagery. Much like me and quite a few of my fellow countrymen.  Bring on the show!

They weren’t sure what to make of Paul. This guy didn’t even accept money from them to preach to them! That was almost akin to saying that what you were talking about was worthless! He also was a self admitted flop as far as personal style and orating went.  He represented almost the antithesis of what a Corinthian would consider a “successful” man. When ya think about it, so did Jesus, who Paul was trying to live like. I always wonder how we would react if a Paul surfaced in our culture. Would we laugh him out of church?

Obviously, I’m not a biblical scholar, I can only interpret what I read from my own life and experience. Which I will admit is probably skewed a bit. It’s just that his words haunt me as I read them.

20Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 1Cor 1:20-21.

26Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 1Cor 1:26-29

14The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:  16“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?”[d] But we have the mind of Christ. 1Cor 2:14-16

18Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. 19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”[a]; 20and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”[b] 21So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours… 1Cor 3:18-21

What’s the Holy Spirit through Paul trying to tell me here? I think he’s telling me to take everything I’ve learned in my life before and even after receiving Christ and shove it. All the things that have been taught to me since I was a child, since I’ve been babysitted by a TV for most of my life, all the things that the very Nation that I was born into, have absolutely nothing to do with the way that God wants me to live my life.

He is also echoing what Jesus himself said many times in the Gospel. The last shall be first. That there’s an equal playing ground in God’s Kingdom.  …So that no one may boast before Him.  Rich, poor. Strong, weak.  It doesn’t matter. We are all equal in the eyes of The Lord through Christ’s death on the cross. His Grace is enough.

I love the 2nd chapter and how it so totally throws me under the bus in the way that I thought before Jesus. How I once mocked Jesus and his followers. Why? Well, truthfully, partly because his followers are such a pain in the ass. They are an easy target. To get even deeper, what Jesus Himself was talking about would make no sense to someone who wasn’t a believer. Heck, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to us who believe, either.  Lose my life to gain it? Huh? Help the oppressed and the homeless and the poor just because? I think it’s that “what’s in it for me?” angle that we are all born with.

The other thing he talks about is how  I make judgment on all things now. Why? Because I have the mind of Christ! What the…? Really? Yes, really. What a terrible responsiblity that is. When I say terrible what I mean is HOLY.  The mind of Christ keeps me from being JUDGMENTAL! How is that for divine irony?

What I mean is this. If I have the mind of Christ I can no longer hate anyone based on their sexual identity, their race, color, creed, gender, I can’t even judge them on their religious preference! For Jesus himself forgave all of us. Jesus welcomed all who came to him. If I have the mind of Christ can I be any less welcoming? Can I be any less forgiving? Hate might even be the wrong word. I think that I must LOVE everyone, as hard as that is to do sometimes.

Do I think that I am wise by the standards of this age? Yes. It’s something I can’t deny. I’ve eaten the forbidden fruit. Gorged on it. Lived my life without a care in the world except for getting what’s mine. What I deserve.  Where has that gotten me? Well, Paul says nowhere. As a matter of fact, he says I might just want do dumb it down a bit.  Become a “fool” to this world. That one line might cause me more fear than any other that I’ve read so far. Becoming a fool makes me vulnerable. Becoming a fool makes me weak. Becoming a fool makes me needy. Exactly where God wants me.

Little did I know when I started this post that it was going to turn into a series, but alas, that’s what’s happening. Stay tuned for Part 2…

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. September 30, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Great post, Bub!

    • bub66ohm
      September 30, 2009 at 9:36 am

      Thank you Todd!

  2. amy jay hoyt
    September 30, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Great post homeskillet! Remind me to show you MLK Jr’s version of Paul’s letter to American Christians that he wrote in the 1960s. Good stuff brother.

    • bub66ohm
      September 30, 2009 at 11:15 am

      Thanks Amy. I know, I keep forgetting about the book you recommended to me, Strength of Love. Thanks for reminding me

  3. Kevin Brangwynne
    September 30, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Bub…great post! Beautifully written and insightful! By the way, I think you’re more of a scholar than you give yourself credit for…you’re just a graduate from the School of Hard Knocks! As you know, I spent a year or two in that school myself. It’s been amazing to watch, as you grow in your relationship with Christ. Keep up the great work!

    • bub66ohm
      September 30, 2009 at 3:42 pm

      Thanks Kevin, coming from you that means a lot to me. Hope you are having a blessed day!

  4. October 1, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Hey Bubman…thanks for starting thie series..i just started a preaxhing series on 2 Californians..uh, 2 Corinthians.. you are already inspting me

  5. October 1, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    sorry some of my keys are broken..need a new computer..I meant you are INSPIRING me

  6. Melissa
    October 5, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    The real question is: Why aren’t you a religious scholar?

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