Saturday Sermon: Message of cross is power of God
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By Phil Steinbach
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
- 1 Corinthians 1:18 (NIV)
I have an acquaintance in Austin with whom I have a running e-mail conversation. What makes this relationship unique is that he is as devout an atheist as I am a Christian. We are polar opposites. Believe it or not, he is an interesting fellow and has a fascinating outlook on life. Here is a sampling of his personal non-spirituality, "My life rocks! I am utterly complacent, and so have no use for God, even if he did exist. I have no use for religion, even if it were true."
As far as I can tell, he has no qualms, no regrets and no doubts. Ironically, his 'faith' in atheism is unshakable. Believe me, I have tried 40 ways from Sunday trying to find a chink in his armor and have been rewarded with zero results. My atheist conversation partner believes that the fullness of life exists between the bookends of the womb and the tomb. What he experiences between the two is all there is and no more. To my atheist friend's ears, the message of the cross is foolishness. There is no God and there is no salvation. There is nothing I can say to change his mind. He is complacent, indeed.
In an odd sort of way, I almost admire him. Rarely have I seen such assurance. I have to confess that in my own faith journey I have experienced plenty of times when I wondered about the saving power of God. My relationship with God in Jesus Christ does not simply drop out of the sky. It commands me to actively seek God's will. It requires me to grow in God's grace. It obligates me to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. It compels me to fulfill what God has created me to be and do. Sometimes the journey is difficult and painful. Sometimes the journey is joyful and rewarding. However, the journey is always challenging. I could describe my faith journey to the cross of Christ in many ways, but the word 'complacent' would not be on the list. For me, the saving message of the cross really is the power of God and I am utterly dependent upon it.
My atheist friend celebrates his freedom from the message of the cross. He believes he is responsible to no one but himself and can do as he pleases. He has not a care in the world, for tomorrow he may die. Meanwhile, I celebrate my dependency upon the message of the cross. I believe I have a responsibility to love my neighbor as Christ has loved me. I look forward to tomorrow, for in Christ I will live forever.
The difference is the saving power of God. No fooling.
Phil Steinbach is the Pastor of First United Methodist Church of Yoakum.