Today’s reading: I Corinthians 1-4.
“Why does the world make fun of Christians?”
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. I Corinthians 1: 18
The foolishness of the Gospel
The gospel message seems like the utmost foolishness to unbelievers, and those who preach that message are counted as fools by much of the world. But the foolish words of the gospel have the power of God to save. The wisdom of the world has no such power. Believers shouldn’t be discouraged by the abuse of the world. Instead, we should take it as proof that we are on the right path and that God’s word is true.
The foolishness of Christ
The contemporaries of Jesus thought he was crazy, and little has changed today. Some call him a good teacher or a wise man, but few call him Lord. Most ignore him. He is a stone that God has put in the path of every person, meant to be the sure foundation that each one can build upon, but instead for most he is the stumbling stone over which they fall.
The foolishness of believers
The church took root and flourished among the unknown people. There were a few wealthy and influential persons, but most were poor and ordinary. Was this because the Gospel only appeals to the down and out? No, it was because God cares for all people, because he has compassion on those the world disregards, and it was to demonstrate the power of God’s word rather than the influence of men. The last became first, and those the world counted as mighty were shown to be powerless.
The foolishness of the Apostles
Paul called himself a fool for Christ, and his life was full of poverty and hardship. He said that even though the Gospel was advancing he and the other Apostles were still considered the scum of the earth. Yet he pressed on for the sake of the high calling and in order to bear many children in the Spirit. His foolish way of life was meant to be an example which his children should imitate.
The wisdom of the world
The so-called wisdom of the world does not lead men to God, and therefore it is ultimately foolish. Such wisdom is focused on the natural, material world rather than spiritual realities. It deals with the earth, not heaven. It cares about the present, not eternity. James says it is demonic.
The wisdom of God
God’s wisdom was secret, hidden from the world. He planned from before time and creation to reconcile the world to himself through his son, but the world couldn’t see his plan. Only those who were filled with the Holy Spirit could understand the salvation provided by Jesus. The natural man doesn’t accept or understand the things of God and they are foolishness to him.
The wisdom of Christ
Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God. He is the word, God’s wisdom in written or spoken form. He is the life, wisdom revealed in action. He is the light, wisdom guiding us through the darkness. The mind of Christ is the fullness of God’s wisdom, and through the Spirit we share Christ’s thoughts, his mind.
The challenge for believers is to forsake worldly wisdom and human power. We must become fools in order to become wise. We must preach a foolish gospel in order to save the lost. We must take on the mind of Christ though the world scorns him. We must imitate the foolishness of Paul so that we can become spiritual parents to a new generation of believers. If we do these things, even though we are nothing, the power of God will accomplish great things.
In 1 Corinthians 2:14 Paul speaks of the man who is psuchikos (Greek #5591). He is the man who lives as if there was nothing beyond physical life and there were no needs other than material needs, whose values are all physical and material. A man like that cannot understand spiritual things. A man who thinks that nothing is more important than the satisfaction of the sex urge cannot understand the meaning of chastity; a man who ranks the amassing of material things as the supreme end of life cannot understand generosity; and a man who has never a thought beyond this world cannot understand the things of God. To him they look mere foolishness. No man need be like this; but if he stifles “the immortal longings” that are in his soul he may make himself like this so that the Spirit of God will speak and he will not hear. It is easy to become so involved in the world that there exists nothing beyond it. We must pray to have the mind of Christ, for only when he dwells within us are we safe from the encroaching invasion of the demands of material things. – William Barclay
Image by Tom Blackwell on Flickr, CC by-nc 2.0