Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 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. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
1 Corinthians 1:20-25
Do I detect the slightest little trace of sarcasm in these words – or would you prefer I call it irony instead? Whatever we call it, Paul is boldly making the case that social and cultural distinctions were playing a big role in the divisiveness that was taking place in the congregation in Corinth. He clearly isn’t serious when he calls the simple gospel message foolishness, but in our time as well as in Paul’s the learned in society make it out to be foolish. I think it’s particularly telling in verse 22 that Jews demand signs, while Greeks look for wisdom “but we preach Christ crucified”.
Think of all of the times in the gospels when Jesus performed miracle after miracle, and then someone would say, “show us a sign”. Think of how often someone might say that the gospel just doesn’t make scientific sense. What did Jesus say about such things?
He said “let he who has to hear, hear, and let he who has eyes to see, see.” When our great wisdom, our lofty positions, our fantastic wealth become central to our lives, we might not even be able to see the noses on our faces. God is not limited by human understand, nor is He dazzled by human society or material wealth.
Those among our church communities who have great learning, or great positions or vast wealth must resist the temptation to believe that they are somehow better or more favored or superior to those less fortunate, for in God’s eye, we all are His “little ones” and none is greater than the rest. For any of us to do less will eventually bring divisiveness to the church, and our Heavenly Father tends to find division among His little ones to be less than amusing.
God has called us to repentance and grace. He has called both Jew and Gentile, black and white, rich and poor, great and small, for to God all are the same.
I enjoy reading Mark Twain, the 19th century American novelist, humorist and social commentator. Something he wrote keeps banging around in my head, so since I can’t seem to chase it away, I’ll share it. Mr. Twain once wrote that all government officials, high and low, everywhere in the world should be required to perform their duties completely naked, for without their fancy outfits and impressive uniforms, oppression would disappear from the earth. That’s how God sees all of us, and if we dare to think of ourselves the same way that God does, all of our wisdom and earthly importance seems rather silly… or so it seems to me.