The first church we pastored was in rural Missouri. I had never seen myself as a “city girl” but it quickly became clear that our life experiences and wisdom were quite different. I knew nothing of “preg checking” cows or proper etiquette following the combine down the highway. I was not conversant in the various types of row crops or the inner workings of the farm bill. However, I had unique experiences that gave me a different perspective. I had spent a lot of time overseas, serving the church in various places. I had studied different languages and had significant cross-cultural experience. One was not superior to the other, just profoundly different. Sometimes, our differing perspectives allowed us to laugh together at our differences and learn from one another. Other times, it produced conflict. The gap between our worldviews often seemed too far apart to find common ground.
In 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, Paul contrasts different kinds of wisdom. However these differing forms of wisdom are not “equal, just different;” they reveal entirely different ways of seeing and living in the world. In the context of ancient Corinth, the message of God crucified seemed utter foolishness. In their marketplace of ideas, one thing was consistent: divinity=power. And not just any power, power that brought results. Benefits. Success. Here comes Paul preaching the message of Jesus, of God taking on human flesh, living the life of humankind, and dying the most heinous kind of death for us and for our salvation. And the suggestion that this Jesus rose from the dead? What foolishness!
As we reflect on the events surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection this Holy Week, it is easy to forget the counter-cultural, utterly shocking narrative of the Gospel. We, who are accustomed to power and authority, success and comfort, forget the upside-down way of God. God has always chosen to the weak to shame the strong. God has always chosen the small and unimportant things to best the mighty. In Christ, God broke the chains of Sin and Death, not through acts of violence and power, but by enduring acts of violence and rejecting earthly power.
Paul reminds us that it is because of what God has done that we are in Christ Jesus, “who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” Our salvation is not found in power, strength, or wisdom, but in submission to the upside-down way of Jesus who poured himself out for Creation. Our call is to embrace this “foolishness of God” and put it into practice.
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Grace and Peace.