World's wisdom or God's foolishness - pick one
Greetings to all of you at Corinth! I'm here with my friend Sosthenes, and I'm sending you this letter in response to Messiah's call on my life. Jesus the Messiah sent me to you, Messiah's followers who have been cleaned up and set apart for God, you folks who call on God's name everywhere you go. Grace and shalom to you from our Father and our common master, the Messiah!
I'm constantly thanking God for the grace he gave to you folks in Corinth, the grace given in the form of the Messiah, Jesus. From what we hear and know about you, God made your lives deeper and richer. From this, we know Messiah is in you. I see all God's gifts evident in you as you wait for Messiah to be revealed once again. This same Messiah will see you through to the end. I'm entirely convinced that when the Day of the Lord comes, you'll be seen spotless and blameless because of God's faithfulness in Messiah Jesus.
I have a serious matter to bring up, however, and I want to call you to action on one thing, my brothers and friends: unity. I've heard some disturbing reports from my friend Chloe that some of you folks have divided yourself into camps: a group that follows my teachings, another group that follows Peter, one that follows Apollos, and finally another that follows only Messiah's teachings.
Don't do that. Listen, Messiah wasn't split between me, Peter, and Apollos. I wasn't crucified for you. You weren't baptized in my name, were you?
After hearing about this nonsense going on, thank God I didn't baptize you all! As far as I can remember, I only baptized Crispus, Gaius, and Stephanas's family. So at least no one can go around saying, "I was baptized into Paul."
God didn't send me to immerse you in water or make a following for myself. He sent me to speak with plain boldness the Good News of Messiah, so that the death of the sacrifice lamb, the Messiah himself, wouldn't be rendered pointless. This powerful, central act God did for us should be the focus.
That statement about his sacrificial death is foolishness and silliness to the folks dying of ignorance or unbelief, those folks hellbent on doing it their own way. But to us, that statement makes perfect sense; it's the most powerful work God's ever done on our behalf.
You know the world thinks lowly of us. We're the dumb ones, the unintelligent ones who believe foolish rubbish, they'll tell you. It's ironic that this is exactly what God planned - remember when he spoke hundreds of years ago to Israel,
I'll destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the intelligence of the intelligent I will bring to nothing.God has indeed chosen the foolish things of this world in order to confound and confuse those who think so highly of themselves. It's no wonder it's always the lowly and the broken-hearted folks who turn to God! Rarely do we see those who think themselves intelligent and higher than others turn to God. No, only after God breaks something in the core of their being and brings them to a humble place do we ever see them turn back to God.
In this masterful plan, God's made the wisdom and intelligence of the world into true foolishness, and folded man's supposed foolishness into his plan.
In this so-called enlightened day and age, is there really wisdom? Where is it? Is there really anyone truly intelligent? I considered myself such a man once, having studied under the great Rabbi Gamaliel and learned man's latest doctrines; an intellectual by all means.
Yet God exposed man's intelligence -- even my own! -- as pretentious nonsense. The world in all its wisdom and knowledge remains clueless when it comes to knowing God. God's delighted in choosing what the world considers foolish -- preaching, of all things! -- in order that the high and mighty be laid low, and the low and humble be made righteous and upstanding before God. Thus, the world does not understand God.
As I write this, religious Jews ask for miracles, whereas you gentiles look for understanding and logic. So, when we preach Messiah's sacrificial death, it's a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Greeks! But we preach the power of God through Messiah to both Jews and gentiles anyways, because God's "foolishness" is wiser the world's wisdom and intelligence. God's "weakness" is greater than the world's strength.
I look at you and I don't see many of the "best and brightest", not many influential, not many high-society families. Isn't it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women the culture overlooks and discards, exploits and abuses? God picked such "nobodies" to expose the hollow pretensions of the "somebodies". He picks the ones who are broken, suffering, lowly, humble. In doing this, God shatters the self-importance of the pompous "high and mighty" folks. The first will be last, and the last will be first.
The world will call you weak, unintelligent, and foolish for following God. Don't worry about them. God's picked the foolish things in order to put the world's wisdom to shame. The things the world hates and despises and has contempt for -- these are the things God chooses, as if to laugh in the face of those who think themselves so great.
If there are any who are great, let them be great not for the world, but great for God.