May I speak in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I don’t know if you have been watching the conservative leadership contest revolving around Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss? A bit like a really bad version of Britain’s got talent, we are all invited to wait with baited breath to see who has won the public vote, or at least the tory vote and will become the new prime minister. Our MP here has been vocal on twitter about who he is supporting and time will tell who has been most convincing. Of course, to convince people to vote for them, both candidates present themselves as the only saviour needed to save Britain, the one who can do it, the leader who can. Of course for many of us, we have heard it all before haven’t we? No doubt, like all the rest, the next PM will equally fail to live up to their own propaganda when rubber hits the road.
Each candidates solution on money, on immigration, on whatever are promised as the path of wisdom, the path that leads to prosperity, the path of the wise.
In our first reading today we hear a snippet of the 3rd chapter in 1 Corinthians. In the chapter, it becomes clear that the Corinthian church has put their faith not in Jesus but rather in people who lead their church, or through whom they had come to faith. The wise people who seem to have the answers. We don’t exactly know what the Corinthian church was doing, but we do know that Paul was alarmed that their focus was on the leaders who they followed and not on Christ. What’s more, in that culture, people sought the right teacher, the right leader to become wise, to know how to lead a prosperous life. Here Paul attacks that idea completely.
The wisdom of the world is not true wisdom. This worldly wisdom is a bit like this constant putting on the label of saviour on the latest politician, that their policies are the thing that will save us or save the country. Paul rightly calls out this type of wisdom as useless. He says it is rather better to become a complete fool, letting go of worldly wisdom, so that you can learn true wisdom. True wisdom is only ever delivered through the means of utter humility. When I reflect on my own journey in the Christian faith, it has been those moments of hardship, those moments of eating humble pie that have been the most instructive. Those moments of realising my own foolishness in some area, those moments of seeking humility that true wisdom has come. Salvation does not lie in human leaders, Paul tells us, be that in the church or in the secular world. Frankly, I don’t care which of the candidates becomes Prime Minister, because salvation, health and prosperity will not come through either of them.
Paul finishes by reminding the Corinthians that all they need resides in their hearts. All things are yours, he says, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God. Friends, if I or any other leader of the church or otherwise were to disappear overnight, you would have lost none of your potential in Jesus. Each of us, has the Spirit of God, living in our hearts. If that is true, then we have all we need in each of us to fulfil God’s will for us in Cleveleys. You are of Christ and Christ is of God. You have everything you need.
Leadership is important – leaders help shape, focus and guide. But leaders are not saviours. When we think they are we relieve God of His role. Friends, seek wisdom in humility, remember that the same power of God dwells in all of us, is available to all of us, the Holy Spirit. Be bold as a disciple of Christ who has God in their corner. Reject the worldly wisdom that puts hope in human leaders and not in God. When each of us goes out, knowing that the same power of God lives in our hearts that is in the church leaders we admire, from Billy Graham to Mother Teresa, we open up the possibility of God working through us for His glory not our own and we will see miracles aplenty. Amen