The Foolishness of the Cross – 1 Corinthians 1:21

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. – 1 Corinthians 1:21 NIV

The Greek culture, much like ours today, placed a high value on wisdom. The highly educated were respected and held in honor. They were, and are, generally the problem solvers who understand how the world works and how to harness it to humanity’s advantage. So what Paul has to say in verses 18-31 of this chapter was surely unsettling to this Greek church who seemed to be overly in love with the wisdom of this world.

To be clear, Paul is not against the world’s wisdom, at least in general terms. But he is clear that the wisdom of this world will never bring a person into a saving relationship with God. We cannot think our way into heaven. And that is apparently by God’s design. The whole idea of a crucified messiah was offensive to Greeks, as well as to the Jews. In the 1st century, the cross had the same connotations as the electric chair does for us today. How many of us would be willing to wear a miniature electric chair around our necks? Or install one at the front of our sanctuaries? And yet, of all the ways God might have chosen to reconcile humanity to himself, he chose the foolishness of the cross.

God, in his wisdom, determined that man, in our wisdom, would never find him. Is is only through believing in the foolishness of the cross, of Christ crucified, that we can be saved. And so for us, the cross, this bloody symbol of death, symbolizes the power of God.

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The Depth of God’s Wisdom – Romans 11:33-34

Oh, the depth of the riches
both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments
and untraceable his ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor? – Romans 11:33-34 CSB

This hymn at the end of the 11th chapter of Romans is a reminder of the vast difference between humanity and our creator. It is oftentimes tempting to question why God does, or allows, certain things. And it is temping to play the ‘If I Were God’ game. You know how it goes. If I were God, I would abolish disease, earthquakes, and hurricanes. If I were God, so and so would not have been elected. If I were God, I would smite all child abusers.

But the truth is that I am not God. I cannot begin to understand why he does, or allows, what he does. His inner counsels are hidden from me. He has never come to me asking for my advice on some situation. As much as I learn and understand, it is only a drop in the bucket compared to the depth of God’s wisdom and knowledge. Indeed, the total wisdom and knowledge of mankind falls far short of the depth and breath of God’s wisdom and knowledge.

God’s desire is that we trust him like little children. Instead we too often act like know-it-all teenagers, thinking that we know better than our creator. Lord, even as I seek understanding, help me to trust in you and not in my own understanding.

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