One of the readings from the Bible for this coming Sunday is from 1st Corinthians, chapter 1, verses 22 and 23, “Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified….”
A few thoughts….
Religious people demand *proof* which shows that we are right: that *our* God is indeed in charge, that other gods are powerless, that *our* rituals are more effective, that *our* vocabulary is divinely sanctioned, that *our* rules are to be followed (by everyone!), that other’s religious traditions are mere wishful thinking, that *our* book is Inspired, that *our* clergy are more correctly ordained, that *our* creeds or faith statements are purer, that *our* belief is untainted by the world.
Then we religious people can say, “See? Heaven is on *our* side. We have PROOF!”
Secular people desire *facts* which show that we are right: that we *can* understand the universe, we *can* be in charge of our fate, we *can* control our environment, we *can* determine how life will unfold, we *can* manipulate the market to increase profits, we *can* direct how genes will divide and multiply, we *can* develop technology which will remove all risk from life, we *can* predict how the future will look, we *can* produce weapons which will win every war, we *can* expand human life and eliminate the threat of death itself.
Then we secular people can say, “See? The universe is on *our* side. We have the FACTS!”
The question for us preachers of the Gospel is this:
How is our proclamation of the crucified Christ going to challenge ANY of these assumptions? Do our theological ramblings on Sunday morning do ANYTHING about identifying these misguided attempts to replace God with ourselves?
Do we simply settle for proof, and slam the secularists?
Do we simply settle for facts, and slam the religious?
Do we pretend that the Cross raises us above either of these perspectives, and say it gives us a truer picture than either (which is simply another way of trying to disengage from the messiness of life!)?
Do we pretend that the Cross gives us the insight to pick and choose the “best” from both perspectives (which is simply a way of trying to avoid the consequences of life!)?
Or do we take the chance that Paul took, and proclaim that the Cross cuts us ALL off at the knees, religious AND secular, proof demanding AND wisdom seeking, engaged AND disengaged, and leaves us ALL completely helpless before God and everyone?
Do we dare say, with Paul, that being helpless before God and everyone is actually the best place to be?