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What Makes God Happy?

March 3, 2018 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Verse: 1 Corinthians 1:26–1:31

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Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
March 4, 2019
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Lent 3
What Makes God Happy?

"For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom could not find God -- it delighted God through the foolishness of what we preach to save those who believe. For consider your calling, Brothers, how that not many of you were wise by human standards not many powerful, not many of noble birth.

But God chose the foolish things of the world in order to shame the wise. God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong; and the insignificant things in the world – and the despised things - those God chose; and moreover the things that are not, in order to shame the things that are; so that no human being should boast in his presence.

By him (God) you are in Christ Jesus (baptism) who is become for us wisdom from God, justice, and sanctification and redemption; so that as Scripture says: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord!" (1 Corinthians 1:21, 26-31) 

God loves to make fools of men! In the 2nd Psalm we learn that the Lord laughs in derision as the kings of the earth strive to depose God, and make a mad grab for his throne.

You do that too! You want to be God. You want to rule the world, and you want the whole world to fall down and worship you. You want the world to give you what you want, when you want, for as long as you want, and God help anyone who stands in your way.

Dress it up however you like but that is what we spend our lives doing. Working towards some glorious goal that we are certain! will make us happy once we reach it. And we will employ whatever tool we must!

If we can reach that Happy Place by charm, wit, artificial humility, or feigned righteousness and gentility: we will do it! If by cunning, power, hysteria, temper tantrums, theft, brutality or bloodshed: we will do it! Whatever it takes! Because we must fulfill our own personal mission statement which is simply this: I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other Gods before me.

That is the human condition, and you are human. Deny it if you like. Get angry and indignant as people are wont to do when you put the mirror of the Law in front of their faces. But that is God’s assessment of humanity, of which you are a card-carrying member.

It is why, as we learn in today’s gospel, Jesus would not entrust himself to men. Because as St. John says: he knew what in man, and needed no one to instruct him.

He needed no instruction because Jesus is not only our omniscient Creator, but our mighty Savior who did not come into the world to play patsy with sweet people; but to reclaim, purify and bless lost and condemned creatures. To save Prodigal Sons who have squandered their humanity, and have acquired a taste for dining on the swill of culture, with the swine of culture. Jesus is here to call us back, one and all, to our true Father. Back to the family table. Back to the Bread of Life. Back to Peace by faith in Christ and him crucified – and there is nothing better than that.

But you won’t hear any such assessment as this taught in school, tweeted on Twitter, or discussed by the talking heads who do your thinking for you.

But in this little-read section of St. Paul’s first sermon to the Corinthians we are made privy to a kaleidoscope of glittering truth! Lofty theology and cosmic thoughts that raise us up far above our circumstances. That make us wiser, stronger, and more calm than all the world about us, because here St. Paul teaches all who will hear, what makes God happy:

Christ and him crucified!

And so if you want the best for yourself, and for those you love. If you want pardon for your sins, and Peace with God. If you want to live a new life, and to bear earth’s many troubles with hope. Then hear today’s epistle where we learn that:

God always chooses the foolish things of the world to perplex the wise;

the weak things of the world to shame the strong;

the insignificant things of the world, yes, even the things that culture despises, and considers less than nothing -- to show as of no value whatsoever the things that humanity holds most dear.

What specifically?

The foundation of our faith is nothing else than Christ, and him crucified! Not just Jesus as sentimental thought in our hearts, but Jesus on the cross. Jesus suffering, dying, bleeding and offering his stainless life in exchange for the life of the world.

“Jews demand a sign, and Greeks seek wisdom but we preach Christ crucified: scandal to Jews, and foolishness to Greeks; but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks: Christ! The power and wisdom of God!

And so, dear Christians, it is our crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus Christ who is the church’s one foundation. (TLH #473) But that is not the end of God’s foolishness, but only the beginning.

What makes God happy?

Baptism makes God happy! He chooses the seeming weakness of Ritual, Water and Divine Word to liberate us from the power of the Devil, drown our Old Nature, and make us lively branches on the Vine that is Christ.

God chooses Christian instruction – something the members of Christ Lutheran Church don’t believe in – so that all his children might grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and not subsist in theological ignorance. Repent! Come and learn God’s word from the teacher God placed in your midst at 9:00 AM every Sunday morning. This makes God happy.

God chooses Divine Liturgy as the time and place that he absolves the sins of his people, hears their prayers, heals their wounds, arrays them in glorious dress, crowns them with righteousness, and renews their strength like the eagle’s.

God chooses the Ten Commandments (with their Christian meaning) by which he blesses his people, and the whole world. It makes God happy when we conform our lives to these ancient standards of conduct that are so despised! and so feared! by all the world.

God is a jealous God just as we hear in today’s Scripture – who visits the sins of the fathers upon the children! to the third and fourth generation of those who hate him! Don’t do that! Don't hate God! But who extends mercy, and steadfast love to the many who love him, and keep his commandments. Do that! Love God!

These are the things that make God happy! And these are the things that will make you wise, strong, glad and happy all the days of your life. Amen