Blog Space of Rev. Adrian J. Pratt B.D, pastor at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church, Ellicott City, MD

Monday, January 30, 2017

Going Deeper

Going Deeper!

In our service this coming Sunday we are continuing our series titled “The Conundrums of Corinth (And their legacy in the church). ” Last week our sermon was "Field of Fools." This week we are looking at 1 Corinthians 2:1-12. In verse 9 we read "The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God."

I recall as a youthful believer that such a verse would discourage me rather than encourage me. When you are in your late teens you want clear answers with no gray areas. I was attracted to a kind of certainty that I now regard as being unhelpful. The books of the Bible offer us answers. But I have often found they are not those that we expect. There is often ambiguity and tension.

In the previous section Paul makes great contrasts between the wisdom of the world and the foolishness of the gospel message. He begins this passage by speaking about his own inability to proclaim it. He implies that if they are receiving anything from him, than it's due to the work of God's Spirit, not his skills.

He launches into words about the mystery and 'un-knowabilty' of God's ways. 'What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived - the things God has prepared for those who love Him.' All of this is a far cry from the kind of religious certainty that we often crave.

I recall a preacher years ago saying; "The Holy Trinity is not Father, Son and Holy Scripture', but 'Father, Son and Holy Spirit'." If we are expecting to be able to simply open up our bibles and find an instant answer to some pressing concern, we may be setting ourselves up for disappointment.!

But if we are prepared to carefully and prayerfully approach scripture, aware that the whole process of revelation is depending upon the action of God's Holy Spirit, then maybe treasures from the deep will be revealed. Why limit that process to Scripture? That same attitude can color our approach to worship, to fellowship, to our work, our leisure, to our relationships... just about any area in our life.

Our passage closes with the words 'What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us." There is something wonderfully dynamic and experiential about Paul's view of the gospel. Something that blind insistence on regarding any text as being 'The last and only word on this' can obscure.

I love the Celtic image of the Holy Spirit as being 'The Wild Goose'. Unpredictable. Free. In Transit. I'm glad that there have been those alongside me in my spiritual journey who have had the patience to say, "Yes, you can look at it that way, but look, here's another perspective". I am glad for those who encouraged me to see that the depth of God was not something to be frustrated by, but rather something to dive deep into.And I hope that you may find those around your life who encourage you to do the same!

Some questions to ponder as Sunday approaches.
  • Why does Paul tell the church in Corinth "I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling"?
  • What would it mean to have a faith that didn't "Rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power"?
  • What role does 'mystery' play in our lives?
Finally, here's an enjoyable version of William Cowper's classic hymn "God moves in a mysterious way"

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