Christians are an enigma to the unbelieving world around us. Even more so, it seems, with each passing year. The non-Christian can’t make heads nor tails of us, or begin to comprehend the reason for our words and actions … at least not our truly Christian words and actions. Yet the same cannot be said to be true about our understanding of the unbelievers. While we often shake our heads at their words and actions they do not surprise us. We understand them all too well. We’ve been there. In fact you could say that we understand them even better than they understand themselves. But don’t get too puffed up, dear friends. You are not so very wise, nor have you worked all this out in your own mind. You know this because you’ve been given the wisdom of Christ, and the very mind of Christ.
1And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
It is really very simple and focused – humble messengers testifying to Jesus Christ crucified for us sinners! That’s the secret. That’s the heart. That is the soul and the mind of being Christian. And it confuses the heck out of the world around us. “Why does it always come back to Jesus for you Christians?” atheist debater Richard Dawkins once lamented in a debate. He is not alone in his bewildered wondering.
Why do we not spend more time relying on rhetorical technique or any other worldly strategy for making an impression? Because it is not about winning debating points or putting on a good show. It’s about speaking the truth in Christ and letting God reap the results.
6Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
Know this dear friends, the secular spirit of this age is always trying to make the church conform to its own agenda rather than letting the church be conformed to the mind of Christ. Always seeking to tell you what the mind of Christ would be, rather than letting Christ tell you what your mind should be! But that wisdom of this age is reduced to nothing in the face of Jesus Christ Crucified, Risen, and Victorious. The power and influence of this world is transitory and already fading from the scene. For even with all their sophisticated knowledge, be it in science or philosophy or in social justice theory they have failed to recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
It is the great secret of human history that is hidden only from the sinful and unreceptive world. It is the great mystery that the Spirit reveals through the Gospel and comprehended in the cross.
9But, as it is written, What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him—10these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.
Only spiritual people welcome these spirit-taught words, these deep things of God – His love for us fools shown on the cross. And in the revelation of that cross a spiritual person is able to exercise good judgment in all things, both secular and sacred; for we have a privileged understanding of reality. Both sin and grace. Both what should be and what is. Both right and wrong, good and bad, and the true nature of humanity as it was, is and will be again. Why? Because God has given us a piece of His mind. And we are informed by His Word and the Spirit together.
13And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
Here … you have the entire essence of God, his will, and his work exquisitely depicted in very short but rich words. In them consists all our wisdom, which surpasses all the wisdom, understanding, and reason of men. Although the whole world has sought painstakingly to learn what God is and what he thinks and does, yet it has never succeeded in the least. But here … God himself has revealed and opened to us the most profound depths of his fatherly heart, his sheer, unutterable love. He created us for this very purpose, to redeem and sanctify us. Moreover, having bestowed upon us everything in heaven and on earth, he has given us his Son and his Holy Spirit, through whom he brings us to himself … We could never come to recognize the Father’s favor and grace were it not for the Lord Christ, who is a mirror of the Father’s heart. Apart from him we see nothing but an angry and terrible Judge. But neither could we know anything of Christ, had it not been revealed by the Holy Spirit. These articles of the Creed, therefore, divide and distinguish us Christians from all other people on earth. All who are outside the Christian church, whether heathen, Turks, Jews, or false Christians and hypocrites, … cannot be confident of his love and blessing. Therefore they remain in eternal wrath and damnation, for they do not have the Lord Christ, and, besides, they are not illuminated and blessed by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.1
And that is why we don’t get too puffed up, dear friends. We are not so very wise, except that we have been given the wisdom of Christ. Nor have we worked all this out in our own mind but we have been granted the very mind of Christ. And to have the mind of the Lord is to participate in the pattern of the cross. This privileged knowledge given us by the Spirit through the Scriptures results in the renunciation of all privilege, boasting and quarreling.
Knowing better means being better and doing better. It means being that salt and light that this world so desperately needs. It means loving the unlovable and forgiving as we have been forgiven. It means speaking the truth, even when the world around you thinks you foolish for believing it. It means being willing to suffer for the sake of Christ and those others He loved enough to pay for by His crucifixion. This is the mind of the crucified Christ you have been gifted with. It is the calling of your Christian life and it is measured by the cross.
1 Tappert, T. G. (2000, c1959). The book of concord : The confessions of the evangelical Lutheran church (The Large Catechism: 2, 63-66). Philadelphia: Fortress Press.