Self or Christ?

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

–1 Corinthians 1:26-31 ESV

This first chapter of 1 Corinthians is a deep adventure into the power of Christ crucified. When the truths of this text are grasped, we are left with boasting in the Lord. Yet when we look at our own lives and the world about us, we see that boasting in the Lord is sadly lacking.

Instead we find boasting in our own selves. The very areas in which this text warns us not to boast are the areas which we are most likely to boast. The three primary misplaced realms of our boasting are in our own mental capacities, our physical abilities and our social connections.

Not sure if that assessment is correct? Look around at the self help gurus. We are bombarded with messages about becoming successful. Most will tap into one of those three areas that substitute for knowing Christ crucified. We are told that education is the answer. If we will only gain wisdom, we be successful.

Or we might be impressed to increase our physical prowess. And our society rewards successful athletes with millions. Others might preach the power of social connections. Social media, networking and the like are all the rage in many business circles.

Now nothing is inherently wrong with trying to improve ourselves mentally, physically or socially. But when any of these are the primary focus, we will ultimately fail. Our minds are likely to grow feebler or become outdated as new information exceeds our abilities. Our bodies decay and eventually die. And even the person with the most social connections has to deal with times of loneliness.

Whether we go the route of the mental, the physical or the social, we are ultimately choosing a path that boasts in ourselves. I am smarter. I am stronger. I am popular. That is a recipe for disaster.

It is only in Christ and him crucified that we grow and mature until “the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:7)”. I have been a student in a classroom for more than two decades of my life. I have found athletic fulfillment. I know countless folks from my various life stages. Yet none of that will do me any good as I near the end of this life’s journey. It is only Christ that matters in the end.

In what or whom are you placing your confidence and doing your boasting? I hope it is in Christ.