God’s Acts of Providence (52)

foolishness-of-the-crossMeditation on God’s Providence (9)

The World Turned Upside-Down

The first point that must be made, and that must serve as the foundation for all that follows, is that the Lord God chose to overthrow the world’s wisdom, power and glory with utter, destitute weakness and folly.  He literally turned the world upside down.  Everything that had been learned about how to live and prosper was erased from the blackboard.  In its place were written ideas so radical that they literally appeared to be the ranting of a lunatic to the vast majority who heard them.

The Apostle Paul knew this with full consciousness.  But he also knew that deep within that foolishness there existed a power so great that all the forces of the world, gathered and concentrated in fury against it, were helpless to hold back its joyful advance.  Let the Great Apostle speak, as can no other, empowered by God’s Holy Spirit.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.”  Where is the wise man? 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, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.  He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; therefore, as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord.”

(1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

I sometimes fear that I, and we, have lost touch with just how radical this faith is that we claim as our own.  We have built our own cathedrals of wisdom and power within Christianity.  In one sense, a faith that has been in existence for almost two millennia has no choice but to set standards of intellectual competency and integrity, no way to avoid engagements with the world that have within them the opportunities and temptations of power.

But the deep, debilitating failure that flows from the Church grasping too tightly on wisdom and power is a discrediting of the very power upon which its faith stands.  Let there be no doubt.  Our faith is built on a mystery deeper than any human intellect can penetrate.  Its power flows from sources that have no dependence on human will or organization.  It is of a Lord God who has determined in the depths of His infinite wisdom, love and justice to teach us that

“the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men”

So let the Christian search Scripture, history, culture, all that falls within the domain of wisdom; let the church speak to and act in the world to pursue peace and hope.  But make sure that all acknowledge in awe, worship, joy, wonder, and fear the mystery of faith by which each one of them has been brought into salvation by the mighty work of Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior.

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