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Paul knew Jesus reigns from a cross

February 27, 2024
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Daily Scripture

1 Corinthians 2:2, Galatians 3:1

1 Corinthians 2
2 I had made up my mind not to think about anything while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and to preach him as crucified.

Galatians 3
1 You irrational Galatians! Who put a spell on you? Jesus Christ was put on display as crucified before your eyes!

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Paul wrote today’s verses to two early Christian audiences different places facing different ideas about how to live as Christians. False teachers were urging the Galatians to adopt circumcision as a “must” for salvation. Corinthian Christians lived in a wildly immoral city. To both groups, Paul said the central truth to remember was Jesus’ crucifixion (and in both he used the regal title “Christ”–Greek for “anointed one.”) As a gifted communicator Paul shaped many parts of each letter to the specific audience. But the king on the cross was a vital center point for both messages.

  • People in Paul’s day knew all too much about crucifixion. “Crucifixion was regarded in the ancient world as so horrible… that you didn’t mention it in polite society.” * Paul mentioned it: “I didn’t come preaching… like I was an expert in speech or wisdom,” and the cross was important “so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1, 5). Wow—God’s power worked even through crucifixion! In what areas of life could you trust God’s power to defeat evil?
  • Paul grew up in a Jewish tradition that strongly stressed “works of the Law” (behaviors, rituals, actions) to please God. Paul’s Galatian audience was hearing that old traditions were crucial to salvation. Paul refocused them by reminding them, “Jesus Christ was put on display as crucified before your eyes!” (Galatians 3:1). What are you focused on— “works of the law” or God’s power? How can you rely on God’s power as shown on the cross instead of your own personal effort?
Prayer

Eternal God, what looked to humans like a horrible defeat was actually a way your power in Jesus opened the door of salvation for me (and all humans). Thank you! Help me see things from your perspective more and more often. Amen.

GPS Insights

Lydia Kim

Lydia Kim

Lydia Kim serves as one of the pastors of Connection and Care at Resurrection Leawood. An avid believer that growing in faith pairs well with fellowship and food, she is always ready for recommendations on local restaurants and coffee shops.

I grew up with a mixture of Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, and Pentecostal beliefs. Therefore, what I knew about the cross was confusing! I lived in fear of the cross, felt I needed to live a perfect life because of it, and was at odds with how it was for everyone but not just anyone.

I often felt like a failure and a fraud because I had many questions and doubts about the cross. I never felt good enough and questioned whether I was loved or “saved.” I felt deflated, sad, and angry. It is comforting to hear from Paul speaking to the Galatians that I am not the only one who struggled with what to believe.

Becoming a Methodist helped my understanding of the cross by shifting my focus to God’s love and power to transform it. We often talk about how God doesn’t give us suffering but wrings good from evil. Jesus transformed a symbol of sin, judgment, destruction, and harm, taking away its power over us. Because of Jesus’ powerful love, death doesn’t have the final word. It isn’t who we are. We are worthy. We are loved. That is the power I believe Paul saw in Christ. May we be reminded that Christ’s powerful love is always with us throughout this Lenten season.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* Wright, N. T., Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 22). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.