(1 Corinthians 1:18-25)
Paul begins this section with statements about the foolishness of what we as Christians believe. He talks about it as the foolishness of God and the folly of the word of the gospel and the death of Jesus Christ. He makes the point that to the rest of the world, what we believe does appear to be foolishness and folly.
And let's face it, who amongst Christians has not been called a fool and had our beliefs scoffed at or scorned by non-believers as foolishness? I am sure that we have all been through such attacks, and if not yet, it will happen at some time.
But Paul shows us here the difference between the thinking of men in this world and the thinking of God. For what a man perceives as folly and foolishness, God has accepted as the pathway to life. God established this pathway and these so-called “foolish beliefs” for a very definite reason, which is worth considering for a moment.
Wisdom and Intelligence
Man attempts to understand the world around him through a combination of wisdom and intelligence. He collects information and data and then applies reasoning and understanding to it to make sense of what the senses see, hear and perceive.
Often though, man is wrong. Often man perceives the data or information around him and makes the wrong conclusions. History is full of man's conclusions that were wrong and with the addition of more data were proven to be wrong. Classic examples are the flat earth beliefs, blood-letting to heal the sick or the belief that the earth is the centre of the solar system.
In each of these cases the assumptions made on the data at hand led to false conclusions, sometimes to the serious detriment of themselves and others.
But in matters of the spirit it is even harder. Unlike the physical realm you cannot measure the realm of the spirit. You cannot collect physical measurements of the spirit for it cannot be measured, weighed or sensed with human senses.
And that is why you cannot find God through expansion of human wisdom and human intelligence. God rendered human wisdom and human intelligence as meaningless and useless in our search for Him and His kingdom.
Instead of wisdom and intelligence, God consigned the search for Him and His ways to a spiritual method rather than a scientific method. He established the process of faith in Jesus Christ and in the working of God through grace to enable man to find Him.
Why Faith and Grace?
Why indeed! Of all the ways that God could have chosen for man to find God, why do it through faith and grace rather than wisdom and intelligence?
When we stop a moment and consider it, the question is not hard to resolve.
First, the seeking of worldly wisdom and worldly intelligence tends to pride and arrogance. There are many who hold onto knowledge, wisdom and intelligence that they collect as a means for power. It becomes a power base so that they can lord it over other people who do not have this knowledge, and they do not eagerly share what they know for it gives them a personal advantage over others. I should add that not everyone is like this, but it is a common trait of man to be this way, and it is pride and arrogance that underpin such thinking and behaviors.
What God seeks is for men to come to Him in humility. He wants a humble person because those who are humble can learn and will share what they learn. They do not seek their own advantage but the benefit of others. Clearly then where there is a tendency for pride and arrogance, then God's purpose for humility will not be served and thus wisdom and intelligence could not be the way to Him.
Also we must recognize that not everyone is wise or clever or highly intelligent or has the ability to gain these things. And in fact if God had chosen any other aspect of the physical realm as the means to His kingdom, there would always be someone disadvantaged. For example, if it were based on physical prowess how would the elderly or infirm fare? And if it were based on wealth, where would the poor stand?
Thus, to make access to God and to His kingdom, God had to define a method and a process that was available to all mankind. Everyone needed to have an equal opportunity to find the pathway to God's kingdom.
Faith and Grace
Which brings us back to faith and grace.
God chose a method of coming to Him that does not rely on anything that man is or can do. To find God relies on Him. This is firstly the essence of Grace which is best defined in Ephesians 2:8-10.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Grace is the gift of God, freely given to all who have faith and believe in Him. To paraphrase this scripture, grace is the undeserved kindness and favor of God. Undeserved because man is sinful and so is not worthy of God's consideration or mercy. Undeserved because as sinners man chooses to do the opposite of what God wants and so man becomes the enemy of God.
And yet in spite of man's nature and temperament and predilection for doing evil, God in His mercy and compassion chose to give man a chance to seek Him out and to learn to live in accordance with His ways.
So grace comes from God. Man can do nothing to take this grace, whether by wisdom, intellect or any other means. Grace comes from God as a gift.
So how do we get God's grace? By faith. Our part in all of this is simply to believe it. To believe in what He has wrought in the death and resurrection of His son Jesus Christ and to accept all He has to offer.
This is our part in God's work, to believe. We don't do anything, just believe. And since all people have the ability and the capacity to believe and have faith, faith is the great equalizer. It is by faith that we are saved when we believe what God has wrought through Jesus Christ. At the most basic level faith holds us and sustains us in the hands of God.
Such is the wisdom of God that He has chosen a method that seems to be utter foolishness to mankind and made it the pathway through which He accepts us and through which He will give us life.
As for it being considered foolish by the people of the world who are non-believers and do not have faith, consider this common expression they use:
“Just believing something does not make it so!”
I am sure you have heard it or something similar. But they are wrong. It is by believing that God makes EVERYTHING so! All of the promises of God are received only by and through faith. Eternal life is achievable and will be received as a reward of our faith in Jesus Christ. As the writer of Hbrews 11:1 says,
Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
And even the people of the world recognize faith is required in worldly affairs also. Think about it. Why would Thomas Edison have carried out hundreds of failed experiments before he invented the electric light unless he had faith that it could be done? How could men have walked on the moon, discovered cures to diseases, harnessed the power of the atom and so much more unless they first had faith that such things could be done?
And so too why should we not believe that God has taken the power of faith and used it is the means by which we can come to Him and have His will revealed to us?
And yet the world mocks us for holding faith because they cannot see or measure the ways of God. They call us foolish and the way of faith in Jesus Christ they proclaim as folly because they cannot find out such things through human intellect and human wisdom.
And thus Paul shows the error of their ways as he says,
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. – (1 Corinthians 1:25)
Who can stand and question the wisdom of God? God sees, knows and understands all things. Man is weak and his knowledge and intellect are flawed, but God who created all things is so much greater and wiser than man will ever be. Thus if God was indeed acting foolishly, then His foolishness would indeed still be greater than the wisdom of man for He is God. He is the Creator and we are simply His creations. So who is greater, the creation or the one who created it?
Keep the faith and hold fast to,the wisdom of God for it leads to salvation and life. And do not let the pursuits of,this,world lead you astray for it is the way of God that matters, not the flawed wisdom of men.
You might also like:
Damned If You Do And Damned If You Dont
The Revelation To The Babes In Christ
Traditions Of Men Versus The Word Of God
He Who Is Not With Us Is Against Us
The Lesson Of The Widows Mites
Damned If You Do Damned If You Dont
Stand Up And Listen To Wisdom
Think Before You Act
Who Should You Listen To
Wisdom Of Gamaliel
Making Things Happen
Seeing But Not Believing