- April 23, 2020
- Jessica Fields
It’s so easy to get disappointed to other people. And even easier to be disappointed in ourselves, especially when you realize, perhaps not for the first time, that you aren’t the person that you want to be.
I listened to a pastor recently who preached on our identity in Christ, pulling from the reminders Paul gave to the church in 1 Corinthians. This pastor noted that, even as social distancing makes us less and less ‘in the world,’ this COVID-19 season has forced us to realize how much the world is in us.
We hoard toilet paper, refuse to make eye contact with people as we pass them in the street, and we judge each other for how much we are or are not avoiding social contact.
But we haven’t been disappointing and off the mark for just the past few bizarre months. We’ve been messed up for ages.
I’ve been studying 1 Corinthians in preparation for my church’s upcoming teaching series, and I found 1 Corinthians 2:2 to be terribly confronting.
“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (ESV)
And because I’ve been prepping to teach 1 Corinthians to kids, I read it in the International Children’s Bible, which is abundantly clear.
“I decided that while I was with you I would forget about everything except Jesus Christ and his death on the cross.”
That person, the person who lives with those priorities? That is so very much not me.
But I want it to be.
You can blame it on whatever you want – a funk, stress, transition, a pandemic. Whatever the cause, I have not forgotten everything for the sake of remembering that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins. I’d pushed Christ off center stage, and once you do that, it’s pretty easy to trail off into being selfish and self-centered, mopey and unmotivated.
When you’ve gotten into a pretty self-focused groove, it’s easy to turn even the act of focusing more on Christ back onto your own works. But Paul has convicting words for that as well:
“ Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,” (Philippians 3:8-10)
It all comes back to God, every bit of it. The death and resurrection? Jesus. The righteousness? Not from my good deeds, but from faith in Christ. The conviction of my sins, and of my self-centered, mopey, disappointing outlook? The Holy Spirit.
And before you think that Paul is some righteous exception, have a look at what he says to the Romans:
“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:18-19)
Later on in his letter, Paul will remind the Romans of God’s sovereignty, that in even in our sinful weakness, God’s power is made might. If the Holy Spirit resides in us, we are being renewed every day.
Paul isn’t flaunting his righteousness in 1 Corinthians 2:2. He’s giving us the key to hope. If I’m disappointed in myself, perhaps I should think of myself less. If I want to have hope, peace, and joy, perhaps I should know nothing except Jesus Christ and His crucifixion.
If I want I want to find my true identity, perhaps I should look to Christ.