I can remember all too well the early days of my faith. There was wonder and amazement at all of the religious things of which I was unaware. I remember thinking to myself, so David and Goliath, Noah, and Adam and Eve are real Bible stories; cool. Being raised in a popular religion, I should have known they were in the Bible, even if I never got to read them for myself. For some reason, I never made the connection. I must have figured that these religious tales were merely recited to teach me something and never thought any more of it. If I knew more than I am remembering now, then I’ve forgotten it.
Fast-forward to 1994, and there you’ll find a 30 year-old guy who accepted Christ as his Savior and owns and reads his own Bible; someone who wants to tell the world about Jesus. And why wouldn’t I? I had been in the dark for so long merely following religion, and now, I can see as clear as day the reason and purpose of Jesus. Look out family and friends, you too will hear and believe in Jesus and life will be great for all of us – NOT! (Pardon my use of a well worn and thankfully forgotten phrase from the 90s). Friends and family heard what I said, but it seemed as if I was making a case for the existence of the tooth-fairy instead of the Son of God.
Paul is saying a similar thing here in verses 22-23. The Jews were looking for their deliverer to come on the scene with power, removing those things that diminished their status, and elevating them to their rightful place above all others as God’s one and only prize. The Messiah that came and died on the cross for his people was not their messiah, and to believe that was a stumbling block to them. They believed that God did not work that way. To the Jew, the cross was the epitome of weakness, not power, and because of it, they slipped farther and farther away from the truth.
To the Greek (or the non-Jew), the cross held its own derision. When wisdom is king, there is no room for the absurd. Try telling a critical thinker in our culture today that one man long ago, was crucified as an atonement for the sins of the world, and by the way, he was God. A common response is contempt, but possibly behind that mask is a person who wants only to pat you on the top of the head and say, you poor, poor, man (or woman). Buffoons, imbeciles, and illiterates may believe in a pre-scientific notion of God and sin, but not those of us who are intelligent.
This weakness; this foolishness; this upside down way of saving the world is the way that God confounds the wise. The weak are used to shame the strong so that before God, no one may boast (vv.26-29). Self-sufficient people do not need the cross, so they believe, and reject it to their peril; the simple in faith believe and are saved. Back in verse 18, Paul names two types of people, those who are perishing, and those who are saved. Jew or Greek, white or black, male or female (continue on with your own contrasts), no matter who or what you are, at the end of the day you stand in one of two camps.
If it is the Lord that is your refuge, boast only in Him (v.31). That is wonderful in its simplicity. How am I saved? God. Why do I believe? God. Who opened my eyes to the truth? God. I was a mess, but God . . .
You may be thinking that Christ, Christians, and the cross are so ridiculous that they are laughable. You’d go snipe hunting before you’d go to church, and are fine handling your own salvation. Fine. God’s ways are not our ways, and if He will work things out for His glory the very opposite way you think they should be, then maybe you should change your thinking; your eternal life depends on it.
I am a fool for Jesus, whose fool are you?
Grace and Peace,