What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” I Corinthians 3:5-9 NIV
- the source of power. God is the one who makes good things happen. God empowers creation. He created creation to create, but it cannot create without His continual empowerment.
- sovereign. God assigns my work for me and the work of every other person on planet earth and, I suppose, those already in the heavenly realms.
- relational. I love that God doesn’t want to be a lone wolf. Instead God invites us to work with Him for His glory and the glory of His creation.
Therefore I am…
- empowered. God has given me great power. I don’t think I really know how much. Very recently I am beginning to learn the power of bold words. I want to continue walking in boldness. “‘Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.” Zechariah 4:6 NIV. I am privileged with walking in the extreme power of the Holy Spirit. Mightier than might. Stronger than power.
- a servant. A servant of the most powerful force on earth. A force that is characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Holy Spirit is a good Lord!
- loved and included as a co-worker. That has got to be the most amazing title ever given, “Co-worker of God.”
This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:13-16 NIV
- without need for instruction. No one need instruct God. No one can instruct God. This is because we are not all that smart, and it is because God is all-knowing. Is it possible in anyway for God to learn? God often asks questions. The Spirit searches our hearts. Does Spirit search while already knowing the answer?
- a teacher. God loves to share His knowledge with the rest of us. James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” remains one of my favorite verses because God doesn’t find fault with what I do not know. I am a country girl from South Dakota, who transplanted to the east coast in my early twenties. I know what it feels like to have a lot of people look down on me and consider me ignorant for what they considered a lack of knowledge (but was sometimes merely a culture gap). I am so grateful that God will never judge me the way that so many East Coast city people did. God teaches without scorning those who are taught. I am so glad that this is the way the most powerful force in the universe communicates! Love and grace win!
- generous. God loves to share. He gives us the mind of Christ. What more could I ask for? To have God’s mind operating within me is definitely the greatest of all privileges. I can think like God thinks. That is way cool!
Therefore I am…
- subordinate to God. I am so grateful that God is God, and I am not. It would be truly tragic to have me as the most powerful force in the universe. I get to surrender to God’s power, and that is so incredible that it mostly scares the crap out of me every time I really think about how much power that would be! The other day I thought to myself, “Yeah, well, I am not a miracle worker.” Immediately I was answered with, “Jesus said you would be one.” I am faced with the question of who I will choose to believe: myself or Christ.
- taught. I have access to great wisdom. I don’t just have the ability to learn facts, but God gives me wisdom to know how these facts integrate into all areas of life. I am grateful for that.
- gifted. I am great friends with the One who empowers everything. I am so glad God empowers me too! The breath in my lungs, the way for my feet, the reality with which I am surrounded. Jesus Christ, the Life, the Way, the Truth.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 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. I Corinthians 2:12 NIV
- Searches. Isn’t it fascinating that God is all-knowing and yet the Spirit searches all things. It is fascinating to me that the Spirit is somehow curious while yet knowing all things. It is, after all, the Spirit that leads us into all truth (John 16:13).
- Knows. “No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” No one knows my thoughts and motives, except myself and the Spirit of God. I am deeply known, for which I am deeply grateful. I am also grateful that I am only known in such a way to God. Everyone else will only know what I reveal to them through my words and actions.
- Reveals. Isn’t it cool that we have been given the Spirit of God, so that we can understand what God has freely given us? It is impossible to understand God’s wisdom without the Holy Spirit. It takes God’s explanation and Spirit facilitating our thoughts in order for us to understand how death might end through death. Crucifixion, whether Christ’s or our own, is hardly obviously life-giving. We are much better at avoiding pain than embracing it as possibly life-giving. And yet, it is Jesus’ crucifixion that gives us that abundant life that He promised His disciples (John 10:10).
Therefore I am…
- Known. God knows me. For the sake of God, I do not have to try to hide what is inside of me from who is outside of me. God knows me in my secret places. Nothing within me scares Holy Spirit. And why should it? Holy Spirit is most of what is within me!
- Knowing. I love that Paul goes straight to the thought of Holy Spirit being within us in order that we might know what God has freely given us. It seems to me that a life lived in the Spirit would be a life lived celebrating as we continually receive revelation of how good what God has given to us really is. I love that this statement isn’t just about knowing who or what God is. Rather it is about knowing what God has given to us. Every truly thankful person celebrates what has been given to them! There is such a difference between being disappointed about a gift and being excited about it. I want to know what I have and be excited about it!
We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written, “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 – these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:6-9 NIV
- A Revealer. One of my pastors, Aaron Horton, is always encouraging us to pray, “Spirit of Truth, lead us into all truth.” This is a most wonderful prayer. God is revelatory. Holy Spirit reveals God’s wisdom, truth, and love to us. I watched a documentary on some of the islands near Australia today. The beauty of God that is revealed in what has been made from that volcanic ash is incredible! I just enjoyed surfing the website of one of my favorite artists, who sometimes paints landscapes of South Dakota and nearby states. God’s beauty is revealed in her art and in the landscape. You can find her work on actofcanvas.com.
- An Intense Lover. “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived.” God has prepared for us more than anyone has ever received or dreamed of. Better than our ideal life or future is the reality of God’s revelation. As I sit here tonight thinking of people whom I love dearly, who quite strongly are repulsed by each other, I am in awe that this incredible promise is for each of them. God wants them all to experience abundant life and to live eternally. I am so glad of that!
- The Planner. I love that God’s wisdom was destined for our glory before time began. I am so grateful that God’s wisdom brings the end of death through Christ’s death. Human wisdom would have never dreamed that it would be possible for death to end through the murder of an innocent person. It is more than we could fathom or understand. It is bizarre yet the source of our life.
Therefore I am…
- In the Know. I can know God. I do know God. Like a baby discovering its fingers and toes and the people around it, I discover the spiritual realities that God reveals to me. I am no longer a “newborn” – at least one wouldn’t think so for how long I have believed Christ was my Savior – but perhaps I will always be a newborn in the Kingdom. I will retain the wonder awe of a little child discovering her Parent’s power and love.
- Intensely Loved. God loves me more than anyone has ever imagined one can be loved.
Higher than the highest heavens,
Lower than the deepest sea,
As far as east from west can be,
Greater love God has for me.
3. Planned. My glory is planned. The beautiful, wonderful, majestic future that God has for me has been planned. This wonderful present moment has been planned. Every good thing God has prepared me to do has been planned (Ephesians 2:10, Romans 8:28-29). I like it. I love it. I definitely want more of it! (That last bit is a quote from a country song. It’s up to you to google which one! haha!)
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 1 Corinthians 2:2-5 NIV
- Jesus Christ, crucified. I love that 1 Corinthians starts with Paul knowing nothing except Jesus’ crucifixion and ends with Paul proclaiming the importance of Jesus’ resurrection (chapter 15). There is a wonderful chiasm in the epistle if you take the time to find it.
- Powerful. I remember when I finally figured out that to fear God simply means to realize His power is greater than all other powers. It is to have great respect and awe for His all-surpassing power.
- Spirit. Because God is Spirit, He can be with me wherever I am. Spirit, which is invisible, is what gives substance to what became visible. The immaterial Spirit produced the material world. It really is a wonder.
Therefore I am…
- Crucified with Christ, and yet I live. The death of death came through death.* I am so grateful that I live!
- Powerful. The grace of God has been given to me. It works in me. I am powerful.
- Spirit-filled. I do not have to rely on human wisdom or eloquence. I can rely on the Spirit’s power. I do not want to rob the cross of Christ of its power (1 Corinthians 1:17). Rather I want the Spirit to flow through me.
*”The death of death through death” is a phrase borrowed from Tommy GIvens.
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 1 Corinthians 1:30-2:1 NIV
- The Source. It is because of God that I am in Christ Jesus. It strikes me that I often think about this the other way around. That is, that I am a friend of God because of Christ Jesus. I love this other side of the equation. It shines such light on the equality and reciprocal relationships within the Trinity of God. Both statements are true. Jesus comes from God, yet Jesus is also both the beginning and the end.
- The Gift. God sent Jesus Christ, who is also equally God and is one with God. God is both giver and gift. God gave us Himself. It does seem to me that the best gift I can give God is also myself.
- Wisdom. I love that God’s wisdom is righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Isn’t that the most hopeful thing ever! It’s like Paul was saying earlier. Wisdom from God looks foolish to people – because forgiving someone who ruined our lives does most definitely seem foolish some days. But wisdom is redemption. Redemption doesn’t happen without forgiveness – without someone paying the price that wasn’t at fault for the crime. Can an offender ever truly make up for what they have done without some forgiveness being involved? It seems to me that the breach of trust in the relationship needs forgiveness even in a case like robbery where technically the item stolen can be returned unharmed. Still, the victim must forgive the breach of trust. Wisdom from God is redemption not retribution. I am so grateful for that!
Therefore I am…
- Righteous. God gave me Christ, who has made me righteous. He is righteousness. I have the mind of Christ, so I can think like Him (1 Corinthians 2:16). I have the gift of grace, so I can speak like God (1 Peter 4:10-11). I have the same power source as Christ, so I can do the same actions that He does (John 14:12-14). Yup! I am righteous; and because of all these things, I don’t have to be righteous in name only. I can bear the image of God well.
- Holy. I am set apart by God. I love that the choosing that God does isn’t about who is in and who is out so much as it is about what is in store for me. As Romans 8:29 says, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” I am set apart to become like Christ. That is pretty amazing stuff!
- Redeemed. I am certainly glad that I am redeemed! That is the theme of this blog. When it was started so many years ago, it was so that when someone read it that over time they would see the transformation. It seems to me that the sweetest thing in the whole wide world is redemption. I don’t seek sweet revenge – not on anyone, no matter how badly they have hurt me. No! I seek sweet redemption. There is no better ending; there is no ending that evil hates worse than seeing victim and offender redeemed. Darkness hates to see even evil turned to good through redemption.
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NIV
- Purposeful. He chose the way of salvation and knowledge of God with great intent. It’s such a beautiful picture. The weak, lowly, despised things canceling out the haughty, proud, honored things through the power of God. The power of love really is stronger than anything else. I love that God chose such a way.
- The ultimate Power. I love the power that shines through in these verses. God is more powerful than anything. I love how thinking about these verses for the last few days has me thinking about the wisdom and power of God involved in the design of God. God’s design of the plan of salvation is so upside-down and nothing a human would have ever thought of. God has the power of being the designer of the system of the Universe. Just thinking about that gives me a confidence boost!
- Shrewd. This wisdom of God reminds me of Jesus’ command to be “as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16 NIV). God’s wisdom and strategy designed how God won over evil. God knew how evil would try to win, and God works in such a way that He is able to even make evil work for good. After all, the death of death came through dying.* Evil would have never considered that to be a remote possibility. If it had, it wouldn’t have killed the Lord of glory.
Therefore I am….
- Useful. This connection reminds me of Ephesians 2:10. I have been created to do good works, which God prepared for me to do. God purposefully designed me for certain good. That’s really cool! The other day I realized that even if God knew that I would be where I am today, He still chose to put my in my mother’s womb. My mother, who lives over a thousand miles away from me and is part of a much different culture, was the perfect starting point for my journey to where I am today. God has a strategy and a plan, and it is really cool to realize that I am a part of it! And so was my starting point in my mother’s womb!
- A vessel of God’s power. Once again tonight I think of John 7:38, where Jesus promises that rivers of living water will flow from within me. And by “rivers of living water,” the author of John says that Jesus meant the Holy Spirit. It is promised that the Holy Spirit will flow from within me. That ultimate power of life will flow from me. I would like to sing and dance about that one! Not a few drops, not a stream, or a creak, or even a spring, or even a single river. No rivers. Lots and lots of the Holy Spirit will flow through me. Whoooohooooooo! Power that looks like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control will flow from within me. That is some pretty heady stuff!
- Like-minded with God. Scripture says that I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). The Apostle James promises that if I lack wisdom, I can ask God for it and God will give it to me without finding fault with my lack of knowledge (James 1:5). That verse is so comforting to me. Oodles of people will look down on me for not knowing the answers to questions that they think are important, but God will never look down on me for any lack of knowledge or wisdom that I might have. God is the only one who knows everything, yet God finds no fault in me for only knowing what I know. God is happy to generously supply me with all the wisdom I need. I am so grateful for that!
Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 1 Corinthians 1:22-25 NIV
- wise. God is really, really wise. Even his foolishness is wiser than the wisest human. It looks incredibly stupid to have the death of death come through dying, but God is wise enough to know that that is how death will actually end – by dying.
- powerful. Going back to that “death of death through death” thought…* How incredible is the message of Romans! All wrapped up in that power that comes through the death of Christ. That gospel is the POWER of God that brings salvation (Romans 1:16). I love those words. Power. God brings power.
- Embodied in Christ. Christ. God knew that the death of the Living One would bring life. It’s really hard to comprehend such a mystery. It seems to me that it is a mystery that has to be experienced rather than comprehended. It is easiest to believe that life exists when one is experiencing that life. Thinking about life doesn’t seem to convince one of it all that much. It is foolish to think that death could die through a death, but I am so glad that God knew it was true.
Therefore I am…
- Teachable. God is wise and has given me the mind of Christ. I can think like God. I can have God’s wisdom. I can live with the same power and wisdom that Christ has. He has given it to me and to every other believer.
- Powerful. Nearly every night I fall to sleep in a t-shirt that has John 14:12 printed on it, “I tell you the truth anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these.” I am not sure what translation that is. The t-shirt doesn’t say. In my case, it would be, “She will do even greater things than these.” God is eager to use me as a vessel of the Holy Spirit if only I will surrender to being used. Holy Spirit is most eager to flow through me. Scripture seems quite confident of that!
- Part of the body of Christ. I have been thinking about marriage because I am working on preparing a teaching about Matthew 19. Think about this story: Man was created. Woman was taken from man’s body. Man leaves the body of his parents to be united with his wife. They become one flesh – again. Weddings are really about the reunion of the genders, or perhaps about the restoration of the “one flesh.” Just look at Matthew 19 and Genesis 2 for yourself. Now think about the church. The church becomes the church through Christ’s body. The church is now literally the physical body of Christ on earth. One day we are told there will be a wedding between Christ and the Church. The completeness of that oneness is very appealing to me. The analogy is not exact. Analogies never are; that’s why they are analogies. Some things fit and correspond, and other things do not. That said, oneness with Christ and his body sounds really amazing to me!
- The phrase, “the death of death through death” is a term I learned from my professor Dr. Tommy Givens at Fuller Theological Seminary.
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. I Corinthians 1:17-22 NIV
- desires to be accessible to those who are considered fools by the people who are considered to be wise by other people. I love the repetition of this theme in Scripture. I love where Jesus thanks his Father for hiding “these things” from the “wise and learned” and revealing them to “little children” (Matthew 11, Luke 10). God is easily accessible to those who are okay with looking stupid in front of those who think they are smart. I am glad of that.
- is confident. God is not an ego-maniac. I reckon if He was, He would have chosen to reveal Himself through worldly wisdom. Instead God chose to reveal Himself in such a way that He would be scorned in nearly every king’s palace. God knows who He is and is not threatened in His self-perception by how the world’s wisdom views Him.
- is pleased. Don’t you love that? God is pleased to use you and me and everyone else to advance His mission in order to save those who believe. It’s incredibly good news. God is satisfied with saving us through what can seem like really foolish means. I am soooo glad!
Therefore I am….
- able to access God. I have no desire to access God through the wisdom of the world. That is kind of funny for someone like me to say since I am well-educated in modern academia. However, verses that talk about God being more accessible to kids than wise and learned adults are always a great comfort to me. Simplicity and quietness are the best ways to hear that still, small voice of God. I don’t need to get a degree to do that.
- learning to be confident in my identity. If God is not ashamed or threatened by looking foolish in the eyes of the smartest people on earth, why should I be? Looking silly as I follow God’s wisdom is much better than settling for the wisdom of this world.
- saved. “God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe” (verse 22). God was pleased to save me. Isn’t that incredible? He didn’t do it reluctantly. He did it with great satisfaction. Today I had the pleasure of seeing a kid who was literally jumping for joy. I wonder if God was that excited the day I believed? I know He exists outside of time, so He already knew that I was going to believe. That said, is God still that ecstatic about things that happen within time even if He exists outside as well as inside of it? I bet God gets that happy even if nothing can surprise Him.
What do you think? How do you imagine God expressing His joy?
“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:21-24
I have been thinking about the closing sentence in Jesus’ reply for the last month or so, so I chose the passage for tonight.
- Spirit. God is not physical although God retains the ability to manifest Himself physically as when the second member of the Trinity was born as a baby in a humble home. For much of my life I have taken the anthropomorphic (ascribing human characteristics to nonhuman beings) descriptions of God by the biblical too literally. God became for me a distant, all-powerful, authoritarian man. In the last few months I have begun to get rid of my perception of God as male and human. God is Spirit. He is not male or female for God is not a human or animal. God is not in the physical world. God is Spirit, present throughout the physical world but not a physical being. God created the physical and visible out of what is invisible. I apologize for the long thought. The implications of this are sinking in more and more to the deepest recesses of my being.
- Accessible. I don’t have to travel over land and sea to access God. I can speak to God right now because He is a spiritual being and so am I. God can hear me right here, right now.
- Desirous of relationship. The Father, God, seeks worshipers. People who will worship God truthfully and completely (spiritually). We cannot worship with only our bodies. Carrying our physical bodies to some remote land to stand in an elite temple is not sufficient or desired. No, spirit and truth is what God desires.
In relation to God, I am…
- Spirit. God created me as a spiritual being. God breathed into me the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). God has filled me with the Holy Spirit. I have immediate access to God and constant communion with Him. That is really incredible. It’s something I more often forget than remember, and that forgetfulness is something that needs to change. My entire life will change if I only remember that I am literally in-dwelt by God, the most powerful, all-wise Creator of the universe!
- Welcome. God welcomes and wants me. Many, many, many people do not want me; but God wants me. He created me the way He wants me. Knowing where I would be today, God specifically chose my mother’s womb to form me. That womb and that childhood would somehow help shape me into all that God wanted me to become. God welcomes me as I grow more and more in His glory. God welcomes me just as I am, just as I was, and just as I will be.
- A worshipper. God created me to worship, and I will gladly worship God. I want to fix my eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of my faith (Hebrews 12:2). I sometimes get distracted, but may every fiber of my being know it belongs to God and has the sole purpose of reflecting His perfection.
What strikes you about God’s identity and your resulting identity from these verses? Feel free to comment below. I would love to hear from you!