I am honored to know CountrySlicker even if it is only through the internet. Here is his devotional for this week titled, “Foolishness” 1 Corinthians 1_22-25. Enjoy – JMc
For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Corinthians 1_22-25)
In Paul’s day, the Jewish world was looking for a sign. Specifically, they wanted the sign of a miraculous Messianic deliverance. They were not looking for the message of the cross. The Jews wanted to see a messiah that would overthrow the government and reign himself. They couldn’t reconcile that salvation had to be purchased and a church age that would occur before the second coming.
Isn’t it ironic that Israel demanded a king to lead them instead of following God; now they want God to send a messiah to deliver them from the government that rules over them? Recall that in 1 Samuel the nation of Israel demanded that God provide a king to rule over them, then they would be like other nations. Samuel warned them against their desire. But they insisted and God granted their request by providing a king in the form of Saul. That didn’t go so well for the people of Israel. Now, at the time of Paul’s writing, the people have decided that they want the promised messiah to come and establish His kingdom on earth to replace the ruling government that they find themselves under. Notice how our desires frequently fail to take into account the desires of God and what He is trying to accomplish.
Their desire for deliverance was not bad, but their rejection of God’s way of deliverance was sin. Regarding the Jews, Fee comments… “Their idolatry was that they now had God completely figured out; he would simply repeat the Exodus, in still greater splendor.” The Jews were only willing to accept the messiah on their terms. Once again, they attempt to put God in a box. Who is it that sets on the throne, man or God? Man wants God to rule, but only when man is not getting his way. The minute that events fail to meet man’s expectations or the outcome is not the one desired… the demands begin to go out again (in the form of prayers) for God to step in and “fix it”. The Jews failed to see Jesus on the cross as their Messiah because this did not fit their expectations for the Messiah. Jesus dying on the cross was a stumbling block to the Jews because they could not fit this event into the scenario that they had developed in their own minds.
The Greek culture valued the pursuit of wisdom, usually expressed in high, academic, philosophical terms. They did not value the wisdom expressed in the message of the cross. Their desire for wisdom was not bad, but their rejection of God’s wisdom was. Regarding the Greeks, Fee comments… “Their idolatry was to conceive of God as ultimate Reason, meaning of course what we deem to be reasonable.” The Greeks wanted to fit God into a “intellectual box” developed on their own intellect.
Christ (Messiah) meant power, splendor, and triumph. Crucified meant weakness, defeat, and humiliation. Christ crucified (power & weakness, splendor & defeat, triumph & humiliation) was the ultimate oxymoron, yet this is what Paul preached! This was seen as foolish by the Greeks.
Guzik commented… If the cross doesn’t seem strange to you, then you either don’t understand how the cross was seen in Jesus’ day, or you don’t understand who Jesus is. You don’t understand the tension between Christ and crucified.
Having addressed the positions of the Jews and the Greeks, Paul now addresses the position of the Christians. The same message is preached to all… Jews and Greeks. The Christians are the ones that believe the message and enter into a relationship with Christ.
Understand that Paul speaks from a place of experience. At one time, Paul viewed the message of the cross as foolishness. So much so, that he went to great lengths to persecute those who dared to preach it. Jesus on the cross was a stumbling block that kept Paul from approaching God. In his own wisdom, Paul was serving God by persecuting (imprisoning and executing) those that would preach the message of the cross. In reality, Paul was persecuting those with true understanding. He only came to this understanding through revelation from God on the road to Damascus.
A Christian’s salvation is not based on heritage (the Jews were God’s chosen people and often placed their faith in this fact) or the accumulation of knowledge (the Greeks believed that through the accumulation of knowledge they could find their way into eternity). Salvation is not based on heritage nor the achievement of human wisdom; it is the embrace of God’s dramatic, unexpected act of love at Calvary. This reality is so simple and so different than anything in the world today that it his hard to grasp, but it is the plan laid our by our Father in Heaven and executed by our Messiah on earth.
The last verse from the scripture quoted above is incredibly humbling and profound… Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. Read that sentence a few times and really let it sink in… Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. Man, in his wisest and strongest moments, pales in comparison to God. When it comes to wisdom and strength… there is no scale on which to compare man to God.
Why is that relationship so important for us to grasp? Why do we need to recognize our inferiority when compared to God?
First… Understanding our inferiority helps us avoid falling into the same traps that the Jews and Greeks fell into. Neither the Jews nor Greeks could recognize the Messiah in the flesh before their eyes because He was not executing their plan. Because God was not working according to their wisdom, they rejected His work as foolishness. Christians should never be so narrow minded or self-involved they they reject the work that God is doing or, even worse, counter His work with their own actions.
Second… Understanding that God’s wisdom is infinitely greater than ours encourages us to look to Him in the situations that we find ourselves in. Sometimes, more important than changing the situation, is determining what God is trying to accomplish through the situation or circumstances.
Put your own ambitions, plans, and desired outcomes aside. Ask God to show you what He wants to do with you today. Instead of asking God to change the current situation… ask God to show you what He wants to accomplish through the circumstances. Trust God, in His wisdom and strength, to determine your plans. Trust God, in His wisdom and strength, to grow you and develop you as His servant for the future that only He can foresee. His plans will take you further than any plan developed by man… Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)