2 December 2020

A Child Will Lead Them to Readiness

Bible Passage: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

I don’t know about you, but I think I am good at waiting but I’m actually not. Just a couple of weeks ago I was at the grocery store waiting in the self check out line. I had only a few things and was hoping to get in and out. I was the first in line, but the people using the self check out were not being as quick as I thought they should be. I thought I was pretty good at waiting. I didn’t huff. I didn’t tap my foot. I didn’t do any people watching. But the gentlemen behind me ruined that when notified me notified me that one of the stations cleared. Apparently the cashier managing the stations had been trying to get my attention. I thought I was good at waiting, but I wasn’t. I had one job… pay attention for the time when it was my turn. Here how bad I was at waiting: I got distracted by nothing. I wasn’t watching other people. I wasn’t reading the headlines of the periodicals. I can’t even tell you I got distracted by my own thoughts… because I wasn’t even thinking about anything… I just completely zoned out.

I suspect though, that I am not the only one bad at waiting. Even as kids we know how hard it is to wait… Christmas is less than a month away, and yet that amount of time as a kid seems like an eternity. Especially, when the presents start accumulating under the tree and start calling your name. As we grow we know that waiting doesn’t get any easier, it just changes. 

As much as we wait for Christ’s arrival at Christmas, we also wait for his arrival at the end of time. So if we aren’t so good at waiting in line or for a deadline, how good are you at waiting for Christ’s return? When he does return we certainly know what is going to happen. We will see fully our own redemption with our own eyes. We know when Christ returns we will know our salvation fully well. So if we are in point A now and Christ’s return is point B, we know what is going to take place at point B. But there are also a lot of uncertainties. We don’t know when point B is and we don’t know what is going to occur between now and then.

The Corinthian congregation wasn’t particularly great at waiting either. In fact based upon what Paul says and their behavior, it seems as though the Corinthians forgot they were waiting. They became more concerned about their own status and how people viewed them. They became fixated on wisdom and eloquent speech. In fact, they were so fixated on external things that focused more on their pastors than the God-man that they preached. The message of the gospel was no longer the center of their lives—they became the center of their lives.

As we learn about the Corinthian congregation we can begin to understand why we too are not great at waiting for the Lord’s return. It’s because we more and more become the center of our lives, rather than centering our lives around the gospel. And only you will be able to determine what you are distracted by. Maybe like the Corinthians it’s wisdom and learning. Maybe it is completely something else. But whatever it is, we easily become distracted.

But the Apostle Paul through these verses puts our attention right where it needs to be as we await his return. He fixes our attention on Jesus, but then he shows us what is happening while we wait for him.

As we read through this did you notice how many times Paul references Jesus? If we had read every opening verse from verse one to verse nine, we would have seen that Paul references Jesus in each of the nine opening verses. No where else in all of Scripture is Jesus referenced nine times in nine successive verses.

Here is the point that Paul is trying to make: God gives and he does it in Jesus. God is active, we are passive. God gives and we receive. And he doesn’t just gives once, but he continues to be at work in our lives. It is through his grace, that he continues to enrich us. 

So we are moving along through life from the time of our birth to the time of Jesus’ return. It was God who called you to be a part of his people. It was he who called you to be part of this larger thing called the church of God. It is God who in spite of all that is working against you, your own desires and inclinations, the deceptiveness of things in this world, and even Satan himself that God continues to set you apart and makes you to be more and more like himself. He continues to show you grace and mercy as you live your life in this world, as you do not always live in conformity to the way of life he has called you to. In Christ he relentlessly forgives you. If this is the case, how might you be doing on your wait?

This is the thought that moves Paul to thanks—it was not so much the Corinthians gifts and abilities, but it was the one who gives peoples gifts and the one who gives the greatest gift in his Son. He gives thanks because of the boundless love of God which is never dependent upon the recipient but purely on his own love.

There are some families with a particular tradition when they celebrate Thanksgiving. At some point during the thanksgiving meal they go around the table and each person lists a handful of things for which they are thankful. Maybe you do something similar. Maybe you write down what you are thankful for or maybe you write notes to each other. Each one of us have blessings which we can thank God for. But none of these blessings are happenstance or random, but are given by God. And if we are thankful for those temporary blessings, how thankful can we be for the eternal blessings of God’s grace. 

God’s grace is ultimately shown to us in Christ but there are other ways that he shows us his grace as we are traveling from point A to point B. Paul then begins to show us some of the things we can continue to look forward to as we travel from point A to point B, here is what we can expect as we eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.

Paul says, “For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge” As you wait for the revelation of Jesus at the end of time, God enriches you and because you have been enriched you lack no spiritual gift both in your speaking and in your understanding. Our speech is rich when the powerful message of the gospel rings forth. This kind of speech is not just empty platitudes, but is the power of God which heals sin sick souls. Our understanding is rich when our eyes of faith are opened wide to know the truth of the gospel. This kind of knowledge is not some kind of impractical sophistry, but a down to earth wisdom which we apply daily to our lives. How are you doing at waiting?

The fact that you have been enriched in every way demonstrates that the Word of God is powerful. It demonstrates that the message of Jesus life lived for you and his life given up for you is true and certain. This message enriches you most of all because it has produced in you faith by which you cling to these truths. How are you doing at waiting?

As you live from point A to point B you lack no spiritual gift. You have been given the living and enduring Word of God. You are rich in wisdom through the council of God. You are rich in spiritual blessings which you can use in service to God and to one another. You are rich in hop for what comes next… you have an inheritance that is waiting for you.

In the meantime he is at work, here is what Paul says, “He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” through his Word keeping you strong and firm in faith until the very end so that you may stand before him at the end of time with no doubt about the certainty of your future with him. How are you doing at waiting?

Could you imagine if all of these things were actually dependent upon how well you could wait for Jesus? When the time came for point B to arrive then we would have every reason to fear if it were dependent upon us. I suppose the right answer to all those times I asked, “How are you doing at waiting?” Would be something like, “Not very well thank you for asking,”

But if there is anything to learn from this section it is that God’s grace is greater than our weaknesses. God’s power through his Word is greater than our distractedness. And God’s faithfulness… that might just drive you to tears. “God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” 

The Apostle Paul has shown you how God is at work as you wait for the arrival of his Son. He is at work through his Word which has been given to us. It is through this Word where we learn just how committed God is to us. So if we are going to be ready, then we need to be in his Word. We must not just read it, but we must center ourselves around its because it is there that the Lord makes us ready by showing us how committed he is to grace, to our peace of mind, and to our sanctification. Amen.