God’s ways and how He designed His kingdom and church to operate often seem upside down and backwards to us. His purposes and commands run opposite of what our sinful human nature naturally wants to do and goes against the cultural norms of our fallen world. But it is through this that God’s glory is revealed and the beauty of the gospel is made evident.
Corinth was a Greek city, and, therefore, highly prized wisdom, intellect, and oratory. Thus the Christians there were beginning to struggle with the simplicity of the gospel and in many ways the utter foolishness of the cross—that God would send His Son to die a despised death on a tree. So they began listening to teachers who tried to add to the gospel message by bringing in “words of wisdom” or additional doctrines. But the gospel message is clear and simple and needs no additions. Therefore, Paul confronted this issue and sought to explain how God’s wisdom is completely different than man’s and that in our finite comprehension we could never understand or fully grasp what God is doing.
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
~1 Corinthians 1:18-24
This passage is packed full of important insight about God and His ways. We cannot try to understand God from a human perspective because God is way beyond us. His will and purposes demolish our concept of wisdom and thwart our sense of discernment. Therefore, if we think that we’ve got God figured out according to our own understanding we are deceiving ourselves and do not truly know the character and nature of God.
God uses the least likely and most unexpected to accomplish His will and purposes. Throughout history He has used the most ordinary, common-place, average people to fulfill His extraordinary plans. God takes events and situations that appear to be hopeless and turns them around for His glory and His sovereign plan.
The most upside down, counter-cultural and human-wisdom-breaking thing God has done is His plan of redemption for mankind. As Paul wrote, the cross is foolishness to the intellectual and a stumbling block to others. Jesus didn’t fulfill anyone’s expectations for who and what the Messiah would be. But He did fulfill God’s intention and plan, thus securing our salvation. Therefore, while the cross is folly to the fallen world, it is the power and wisdom of God.
So as we walk forward as redeemed sons and daughters it is important to recognize that God’s wisdom is completely different than ours and that His plans and purposes often run contrary to that which the world and our finite understanding may expect. But God’s wisdom is worth adhering to because He is far above us and knows what He’s doing.
Therefore, let us always remember to trust and walk in faith, following God even when His leading runs counter-cultural and His plan seems upside down and backward. For as Paul reminded us:
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
~1 Corinthians 1:25
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