I'm currently making my way through the New Testament, but I invariably find myself cross-referencing the Old Testament and tonight was no exception...
I really love reading the book of Jeremiah and my reading of I Corinthians 1 (specifically 26-31) brought me to chapter 9, verses 23-24. Jeremiah ch. 9 is one of several occasions in which God bemoans the ruined state of His people; and after 22 verses of outlining the specific mis-deeds of the Israelites and the subsequent punishment thereof, Jeremiah finally reveals this imperative:
"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom
or the strong man boast of his strength
or the rich man boast of his riches;
But let him who boasts boast about this:
that he understands and knows me
that I am the Lord who exercises kindness
justice and righteousness on the earth,
for in these I delight."
Paul references this verse in I Corinthians 1:31. This chapter is Paul's opener to the believers at Corinth, and in it, he is encouraging them not to be discouraged by their lack of social prominence but in light of God's purpose to prevail. God intends to use what seems weak or foolish to accomplish his plan.
This past Sunday, we were encouraged through the sermon to be continuously and thoroughly on mission for God-- to allow our daily walk with God (which likely requires first DEVELOPING a daily relationship with Jesus) to mold every other aspect of our lives. The result being that through our witness, we will show others the Way and be vessels for discipleship; in doing this, we will fulfill the "Great Commission." (Matt. 28: 18-20) But how many times have I written off this directive as someone else's job, or missed the mark entirely by being self-absorbed in my "personal relationship with Jesus"? When Jesus spoke to go into the world and make disciples, he was speaking to ME-- to all Believers, but we have mistreated this command. When Jesus spoke the Great Commission, He gave the Church a mission. And we are floundering-- we are in ruin, just as God's people in the time of Jeremiah. We are scattered and we lack vision, but we have a chance to change this: this begins in the heart of individuals and culminates in the collective. When Paul spoke to the Corinthians: "God chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise," he was saying: so what if you have no confidence in yourselves? -- all the better for God to use you all-- to use ME-- for his Kingdom.