Lev 14-15; 1 Cor 2-3; Psalm 84-5
Yesterday, we pondered this gospel which is ‘foolishness to the Greeks’ – and our inability to express it in words.
When Paul comes to Corinth, he does not proclaim ‘the mystery of God in lofty words or wisdom’ – rather he decided to know nothing coming among them than Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Of course, schooled as we are in being taught truths, it may well seem that Paul is undoing his prior determination – but in truth he is reinforcing it. He does not come amongst them primarily knowing ABOUT Christ crucified, but importantly by knowing Christ crucified. This is just one word, yet it is the most profound difference. Paul’s ministry as he continues to reveal is nothing more nor less than the living out of a profoud identification with Christ crucified. Paul in his ministry cannot stand at some distance, as if he were explaining even the most beautiful of works of art to people. The Gospel can only be proclaimed in and through this radical identification with Christ and him crucified, the embodiment of divine love.
Christ cannot be ‘known about’ as a substitute for the Life of Faith – in the end all attempts at apologetic are doomed to failure and those that apparently bear fruit do not. Thus Lesslie Newbiggin’s assertion that the church when it is being truthful to itself is the only hermeneutic of the gospel available to us. This is precisely the point that Paul is making. He has to reveal the gospel in himself and that is only possible in the radical identification with the crucified and risen one.
At the heart of all the problems in the Corinthian church as we shall see is precisely this shying away from such identification.
‘if you would be my disciple, take up your cross and follow me’