Thanks to our guest preacher this weekend, Pastor Keith Kohlmeier.
St. Paul addresses the congregation at Corinth, and the one at Holy Cross in Wichita, concerning “the problem with idols” in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. My grandfather used to say, “There are three things you must never forget in life. They are faith, family, and farm (substitute vocation).” And then he added, “Never forget any of them, and NEVER forget the order that they come in!”
Beginning with the illustrations that Paul used of the children of Israel wandering in the wilderness between their miraculous exit from Egypt and their entry into the land of God’s promise, we talked about the temptation to take God out of the center of our lives and in His place to put idols (our needs, wants, passions, even important things like family, possessions, talents).
It didn’t begin with Israel. In Genesis 2:15-17, God put order to His perfect creation and blessed our first parents by planting a tree in the midst of the Garden of Eden. It was the one place in all of His creation that they did not have “dominion over.” In essence, it was the first altar at which they were called to worship Him. But the fall into sin reordered their relationship with Him and all of creation. Their story, Israel’s story, is indeed our story as well.
Into this story God comes with “His – story.” St. Paul says repeatedly in these verses “these things are recorded as examples for us.” He references “all passed through the sea,” and “all were baptized into Moses,” and “all ate the same spiritual food,” and “all drank the same spiritual drink.” And he leaves no doubt as to whom and what these examples refer – “They drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.”
This now becomes your story. As one tree signifies how “idols” took the place of God at the center of our lives, His death on another tree, the cross of Calvary, has now placed God at the center of our new life. We are in a right relationship with God and all of creation not because we are deemed worthy, but because we are redeemed worthy before Him. We are baptized into the same Christ by our baptism, we partake of the manna and spiritual drink through both bread and wine as the Rock proclaims, “This is My body, and this is My blood, given for you for the forgiveness of your sin.”
With a corrected relationship with our God and order restored, we see all that we are and all that we have as belonging to God. We are the “stewards” of our relationships, talents, money, possessions, even each breath that we take.
As you begin your “Reaching the Lost & Strengthening the Saved” campaign at Holy Cross, my prayer is that each of you experience a transformation of your faith and faith lives through the study of God’s word, prayer, and consideration. I pray that the fruit of all these things might produce among you “Immeasurably More” than we can even imagine at this point in the journey. For our purpose is not to meet a financial goal, but to be individually transformed in all of our lives, for a lifetime, in ways that know and proclaim that He is the center of your life. God grant it, for Jesus sake.
Rev. Keith E. Kohlmeier (JN 15:16)
LCEF Regional VP CFS Consultant