No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began … However, it is written:
“No eye has seen,
No ear has heard,
No mind has conceived
What God has prepared for those who love him” –
But God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
1 Corinthians 2:7-12
Wouldn’t you like to know what God has freely given you? God would like you to know this as well, and this knowledge of our inheritance creates a sense of inner security that no one can take away. And someone with a sense of inner security has doors opened to him to achieve amazing things in life.
Paul was addressing a divided church and the divisions came from people with deep emotional scars, who had become Christians but still had their inner struggles. A few chapters over he graphically described the backgrounds of many of the members: the sexually immoral, idolators, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexual offenders, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, slanderers, and swindlers (1 Cor. 6:9-11). The deprivations of their pre-Christian life, their poverty, their abuse and neglect at the hands of family members, their loss of self-esteem due to addiction, superstitious fear-based religion – all of this had its effect on them. The majority of members came from the lower classes of Corinthian society and the division of the church was centered in their own personal sense of insecurity.
But the apostle did not tell them to slink back into the hellish shadows they came from and remain there. He did not say they were worthless, so they should be quiet. Instead he saw the pain that brought about their sense of insecurity, that caused the divisions in their fellowship, and he reminded them who they were in Christ. He met the need at its deepest level, helping the scarred saints of Corinth to see them selves as the redeemed of Christ who never need to feel defeated and unloved again.
Patrick Lencioni in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, emphasizes that the basic dysfunction is a lack of trust among the team members that creates people who speak to one another with guarded statements that results in artificial group harmony. The underlying cause of all of this is just human sinfulness and emotional scars that create in us a sense of insecurity. In Christ we know how to resolve this, not only teaching about who we are in Christ but also by encouraging and loving one another. This book of 1 Corinthians, from the beginning until the end, teaches and emphasizes these truths of our redeemed status in Christ, of his precious plans for our lives, of our giftedness by God and use to his work, of love and unity, and of hope and grace. This is where the problem of division is resolved, which is why God inspired him to place the beautiful chapter 13 about love in this letter. The essential thing that must happen in church is that people must know that they are loved and valued there as the redeemed of God.
If we can merely put aside our insecurities in our hearts and through the love of God expressed for us by others gain a new sense of worth and dignity, if that is all that happens to us in church, we owe that fellowship an un-payable debt of gratitude. For just as insecurities limit our future successes and happiness, so inner security opens doors for the future in all areas of life, in marriage, in friendship, in our careers, and in our service to Christ. If we have helped someone learn that he is loved we have done something great for that soul and for the whole world.
But something infinitely more profound than merely “talking up” one another is going on in Christians’ lives: God’s Spirit is speaking to us as well. From deep to deep, the depth of our souls created in God’s image receiving the limitless depth of God’s Spirit touching us. In our lives before we knew Christ we were like an electric appliance that has never been plugged in but still tried to fulfill its purpose, then the Spirit comes and the power we were originally created to experience surges through us and life has limitless possibilities. After our salvation we are like an automobile that had been pushed down the highway by human effort that has now received its first taste of real fuel and is prepared to move forward with divine power and fulfill God’s original dream for our lives.
Faith is required to enjoy this. Once as a struggling young Christian with a dirty conscience I wondered if God could really, really forgive me. In spite of the fact that his word says he can and does, I still doubted. I confess that for some time I wanted some feeling to take over my thoughts, that I wanted to be wafted away to some serene and peaceful state of mind where I did not need to think about my failures, but that day never came. I continued to live in the world of my thoughts and my emotions became dulled.
Finally I grasped the importance of faith, and I said to myself, God’s word says he forgives and either it is true or it is false. I chose to believe that day that it was true, and I believed it not because I was good, but because God had said it. I chose to believe also that God had something special planned for me, because his word had said it. Then and there I began to experience a different type of Christian life than I had previously, the old things tainted me less, my thoughts and values turned Godward, my spirits lifted, I found myself in conversation with God daily. His word became alive to me and I began to walk in the fullness of the Spirit.
I am grateful for that period of struggle and silence, for it taught me not to wait until something hits me, but that God was already there, that I had his word and his Spirit, and many others who were searching after the Lord as well. Faith was all that I lacked, but I could indeed believe.
There are many things that God desires to do in us and through us that we do not experience because we hold back on our faith. Take God’s word at face value, that Christ is everything it says he is and can do everything it says he can do, and you will find its truth to be your personal experience.
Lord, the disappointments and betrayals in our lives have left deep scars, furrows across the backs of our souls. We ourselves have added to them and we have hurt others as well. For all of this we ask your grace and forgiveness and we believe that you offer to cleanse and forgive is real and genuine. In faith we accept the gift of life, not because we are worthy but because you are love. Let us see ourselves now as forgiven and redeemed. Grant us the grace to be confident in your love, to see ourselves as your children, and to reach out to others in love and encouragement. Amen.