1 Corinthians 1
Paul begins his first letter to the church at Corinth giving thanks for them…they know Jesus, they love Jesus, they eagerly await His return, they are not lacking in gifts. But something is creeping in that threatens to destroy their faith and their testimony. There is quarreling and division among them, and it is ripping them apart.
The Corinthian believers have started to divide into various factions around different leaders. It had become more about the people they followed and their “group” than about Jesus. The things that separated them began to create a wedge in the unity that connected them…Christ crucified.
Paul reveals another glimpse into the wisdom of God in how He reveals Himself and His plan for salvation. It has NOTHING to do with the wisdom of man. Nothing to do with what any leader could imagine or accomplish. In fact, it is entirely counter to what man would consider wisdom. To the Jews, the cross was a stumbling block. They were waiting for a king; royalty with political power and might. A humiliated, crucified, humble, self-sacrificing king was not at all what they had in mine. And to the Greeks (Gentiles), the cross was pure foolishness. It was the opposite of strength, power, leadership in their eyes. Who would follow such a king?
God made foolish the wisdom of the world. God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are. But why?
SO THAT…no human being might boast.
“No doubt, many of the Corinthian Christians were beginning to think of themselves in high terms because of God's work in them. Paul will not allow this. They have not been chosen because they are so great, but because God is so great.” David Guzik
Think about the traits we desire for ourselves or others, even in Christian work: gifted communicator, intelligence, strength, commanding power. I often wish I could heal like the stories in the New Testament. That I could say a word and my nephew would no longer have cerebral palsy, that I could lay hands on my husband and kids, and they would no longer have type 1 diabetes, that I could go to my friend whose child died and mend her broken heart, that I could type the right things and depression would vanish from my hurting friends. What a way for God to display His power and glory, I tell myself. But could I really handle it? Could I do this without becoming prideful? Would I begin to think it was me who was special more than God? Would I only be imposing my will?
These Corinthian groups were counting themselves spiritually superior because of the group and leader they belonged to. The characteristic esteemed by the world became their weakness in that their eyes shifted there and off of Jesus. God knows the pain and suffering. God knows the lost. God knows the path to healing and restoration. And while yes, He often lets us play a role, He doesn’t need us and it isn’t about us. But our tendency is to make it about us, even if we never intended to.
Our human nature is to become prideful. And this takes God out of the picture. Our human nature is to rally around formulas or smooth-talking highly esteemed worldly leaders. Our allegiance shifts and divisions grow wider. We take our eyes off of Jesus. It isn’t eloquent words and flashy style; power and healing and restoration are in Christ crucified. The power is in the Gospel; all else is only a distraction and diversion, not the assets we believe them to be. When we are weak, the Lord is strong. Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.
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