“Understanding the Game” (1 Corinthians 2:6-16)

It is now over 30 years ago that I was leading a youth music ministry trip to England and Scotland in the summer, working with an organization there called United Beach Mission. What, you don’t think of beaches and Great Britain in the same sentence?  Actually, our time with them was on a lovely beach along the North Sea in Scarborough, overlooked by an ancient castle. We did VBS types of beach ministry during the day and sang in churches in the evenings.

A group of British youth we met on the beach were much interested in learning and playing American football. I had taken a football along on the trip. They had seen the game on TV and found it intriguing. So, I divided them up and went over some basic rules. Knowing that none of them had any clue how to throw a football, I told them I would play quarterback for both teams.

Though they had great fun and laughed and laughed, the game only barely resembled American football. They constantly broke all sorts of rules without realizing it. If they failed to catch a pass and the ball hit the sand, they’d just pick it up and start running and tackling as if the play had not ended with the incompletion. And I could not get them to understand that they could not do forward laterals in a whole chain of tosses to each other. It was bedlam. But they went home thinking they had played a true game of football, just like the Dallas Cowboys or New York Giants. They did not know what they did not know.

And this is what life is like for the person who does not know Jesus Christ and who is not tuned into the great truths of Scripture. They think they know what life is all about, and many of them have prominent positions in the eyes of the rest of the “players” in their world and their game of life. But they don’t know the true rules; they make it up as they go; they act like they have it all figured out. But in fact, they are totally lost relative to the true, big picture. They see themselves as wise, and they see people of faith as trusting in some sort of foolishness message.

The person who is not aligned with God through Jesus Christ does not have the Spirit within. Without the Spirit alive and working in their lives, they do not have the capacity to understand the big picture of God’s work. They are blind to the notion of a creator God to whom they are accountable. The idea of a debt of sin separating man from God is foolishness to them. They see man as good, and ever getting better and wiser. There is no need for a Savior; and seeing someone who was crucified on the cross as the Son of God is ludicrous. The natural man does not understand the grand plan of God in the expanse of the gospel around the world. No, that religious stuff interferes with mankind getting better, complicating everything with moralistic judgments and objective truth. There is no anticipation of a return of Christ and day of judgment to come.

But the Christian with even a basic understanding of God’s master plan through the ages is miles ahead of those who are merely informed about science, history, math, technology, etc.  The true believer with the indwelling and illuminating Spirit of God is able to evaluate life accurately, as Paul says: explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

Is this something to be proud of?  To boast about?  Not at all, because the capacity is all from the gracious work of God in calling Christians to be a part of his kingdom. But it does enable the obedient and dutiful Christian to play the game of life with insight and true wisdom.

1 Cor. 2:6-16 – 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. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” [from Isaiah 64:4]—the things God has prepared for those who love him—10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 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. 12 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. 13 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. 14 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. 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” [from Is. 40:13]

But we have the mind of Christ.

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About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed multiple hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and have been a sportswriter for various publications and online venues. My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with the Antietam Battlefield Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

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