“For the message about 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)
Paul has an interesting turn of logic. Those who are “perishing” are the ones who will not or do not believe in the cross and what it symbolizes about Christ’s life & death, and resurrection. But, according to Paul, that is why they are perishing in the first place. Not now, you understand, but when their earthly physical life is over, then everything is over for them. Being saved by believing in the cross, Jesus Christ, and the whole good news & mystery saves lives. Not now, you understand, but when our earthly life is over, there is more life to come. So, is my believing this foolishness or wisdom?
“For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.” (Verses 19 – 21)
Wisdom? Foolishness? Foolish to depend on wisdom? But wise to believe in foolishness? If I put myself in the place of an apostle who is preaching a very new faith that has never been heard about before, and depends on a personage that many have dismissed or is not known to them – then I might concede what am preaching is “foolishness” just to get that judgment out of the way. Paul, being who he is and taking up the tradition of confronting the powers that be, is very dismissive of the Jewish scholars – those scribes and Pharisees etc that Jesus also confronted. It also helps to remember that Paul used to preach against belief in Jesus Christ. The vehemence he had against Christianity turns and is used in service of Christianity.
“For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” (Verses 22 – 25)
In thinking about what to say, I asked myself if believe in Christianity is still foolishness. And I have to concede that it is. Evidence the fact that even within the larger scope of Christianity some Christians consider other Christians foolish. And claim wisdom for themselves. That is a twist I do not think Paul had considered. But it is our reality, beloved reader. Moreover, who is to say which stream of Christianity has the foolish wisdom to be the one of salvation! Ah me, it is a puzzle.
We are in the third week of Lent, beloved reader. It is a time for thinking about our faith with clarity and conviction. I have to wonder, is believing and observing the spiritual practice of Lent foolishness or wisdom? Slippery terms. So let us redefine this issue with modern understanding – if we/I can. Amongst believers it is now considered wise to believe in Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation. It is considered foolish to put one’s trust, faith, and future in those things of this world that do not last. The world may see this as being foolish, but let them! We have the testimony of believers who have gone before us that shows what the better choice is. Shalom & Selah!