Wednesday, August 10, 2005

"Let him who boasts...

...boast in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 1:31

The passage including this summary verse was my focus this morning in my time with The Almighty. The entire passage says: (bold are my thoughts)

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."

*What is the message of the cross? Hope. Forgiveness. Eternity. Peace. Joy. Love. For those who are perishing is seems stupid and unbelievable. It is a message hard to believe. It seems crazy. God sent His Son to die for me??? Scandalous. BUT to those who do believe it is the power of God. God's ultimate power is displayed in the life, death and resurrection of, well, Himself. The message of the cross is the power of God! Soak it in. Praise His name. The greatest paradox is found in the message of Jesus. Lion of Judah slain on the cross as the Lamb of God. King of the Universe murdered by His own creation through a plot by the King's own pen. It is no wonder that the next verse (19) says what it does. In the act of the cross God completely destroyed the wisdom of the "wise" and all human intelligence is frustrated when it ponders Jesus Christ.

I LOVE the next section of questions... Remember who wrote them- Paul. Someone who used to think of himself as wise, a scholar and a philosopher!

20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 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.

*So, where is the wise man? Scholar? Philosopher? Attention, attention anyone who can solve the mystery of the cross! God answers and says He made foolish the wisdom of the world. He crushed all of our "wisdom" under the weight of the cross. The world, through whatever wisdom it thinks it has, cannot understand God. The next phrase is so funny... it pleased God to have a plan so crazy to preach to those being saved! I can just imagine God sitting on the throne of heaven smiling. The mighty little humans think they are so smart, so He used something WE would think was foolish to show HIS greatest wisdom and power! This reminds me of a beloved song by Michael Card which says, "So we follow God's own Fool, for only the foolish can tell. Believe the unbelievable and come be a fool as well." Sure, call Jesus and the plan of the cross foolish, I'll believe it and you can call me a fool too!

22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

*I am squirming in my seat with excitement! We are getting to the climax of what Paul is writing here!!! Jews look for miracles. That is what they see from the Old Testament. They see a Miraculous and Judging God. Therefore,that is how they expect the Messiah to come. Greeks, on the other hand, rely on intelligence, philosophy and whatever other "wisdom" they can understand. Christ was a stumbling block to both. Jesus did not come as the Jews expected and wanted. Jesus was foolish to the Greeks. Those that did see... both Jews and Greeks... they saw what each of them needed to see. The Jews saw the power of God, the answer to their desire for miracles. The Greeks saw the wisdom of God in the unbelievable. "For the foolishness of God (if He had any) is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God (if He had any) is stronger than man's strength." One of the deepest philosophical verses ever. God has no foolishness nor weakness. So why does Paul say this? If God has no foolishness and that foolishness (or lack of) is WISER than man's wisdom... and if God has no weakness and that weakness (or lack of) is STRONGER than man's strength... the only conclusion I can draw is that we have no wisdom or strength at all. Whatever abilities, smarts or strength we have comes from Him alone. Period. End of story.

Now Paul gets personal to the group he is writing to, but it also applies to us!

26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.

*Gee, thanks Paul.

27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are,

*God CHOSE it to be that way to shame the wise and the strong. Why? Why did He do that? Why would He choose the smelly fisherman, the cheating tax collector, the shamed prostitute, the filthy beggar, the helpless blind, the outcast leper, the wandering homeless, the Jesus-follower persecutor and the crucified thief? Why did He choose you? ME?

29 so that no one may boast before Him.

*That's why.

30 It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God, that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

*It is because of Him that I am in Christ Jesus. He is FOR us the wisdom of God. When we could not understand, He became our Understanding. He is our Righteousness. When we could not be right, He became our Covering. He is our Holiness. When we could not be perfect, He became our Answer. He is our Redemption. When we were slaves to sin, He paid the ransom for our deliverance with His life.

31 Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

*Enough said.

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