March 8, 2015 Text: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
Dear Friends in Christ,
Patrick Morley, author of The Man in the Mirror books, writes about the God we want and the God that is. People by nature expect something else from God and create in their minds something different from what He offers them. We have expectations of what we want God to be, how He should act, when He should act, and even what He should look like. We want Him to fit neatly into our plans. We have made our little god in our minds that fits our plans and purposes. This of course goes directly against the First Commandment from our Old Testament Reading. There is the god, with a small g, we want and the God that is.
The God that “is” is the God of the Bible, the one true God, who used what seemed to be pure folly to most of the world – a cross – as the instrument of salvation. Are you willing to leave the god you want behind and trust fully in the God that is, no matter how foolish that might seem to those around you?
“THE FOLLY OF THE CROSS”
What kind of fool do you take me for? Aaron Neville sang the song, “Everybody Plays the Fool.” Remember this line, “Everybody plays the fool sometimes, there is no exception to the rule.” Have you ever played the fool or done something foolish? About five years ago during the winter we had I believe an Evangelism Board meeting scheduled on a Tuesday evening. We had snow the previous days that had built up and the temperatures had stayed below freezing. The city snowplow had left a nice trail in front of our south entrance. It wasn’t that large but I thought I could drive through it. Wrong! My car got stuck. Some folks came along with a shovel and I crawled on my belly to remove the snow and finally extricated the vehicle. I showed up late for the meeting and felt quite foolish. Have you ever done something similar?
We look at others and their actions and find it easy to label them as fools. Just this week another group of people were stranded on an interstate in a snowstorm. We think to ourselves what are they doing out in that weather. We find it easy to judge others’ actions and words as foolish.
Would anyone here today be bold enough to stand up and state that something God has said or done is foolish? It would seem blasphemous, especially in this setting, surrounded by other believers. But the truth is that we often do that by accusing God of not caring, of not working within our time frame, and by allowing His Word to become outdated for these modern times. Are we any different from the Jews and Greeks whom Paul is referring to in our text?
One man’s folly is another man’s treasure. We join the Jews of Paul’s time in demanding signs. Where are you Lord, I’ve been praying? Where is your sign? We join the Greeks of Paul’s time in looking for worldly wisdom in our God, whose kingdom is not of this world. Just listen to how we all talk. We think humans can solve of our most pertinent issues. Benjamin Franklin said something that still fits, “A learned fool writes his nonsense in better language than the unlearned, but still ‘tis nonsense.” Read any government edict and you’ll see what I mean.
We preach Christ crucified. Can we demand signs and look for earthly wisdom when we are dealing with the treasure of the cross and God’s wisdom found in Scripture? Preaching Christ crucified. Why is it a stumbling block and foolishness to so many?
The city of Corinth who Paul is addressing was destroyed in 146 B.C. A hundred years later, Julius Caesar sent a group to rebuild Corinth. Corinth was a center for shipping and trade giving it a diverse population. In Paul’s day it had a population of almost 500,000 made up of free persons and slaves, Jews and Greeks. Over time, the city became known as a wicked place. There were many divisions within the city, the church followed suit.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Paul needed to bring the focus back, in the church especially, to Christ crucified. That is where we need our focus. We get caught up in all the fluff and foolishness and miss the main message. Christ Jesus who died so that we might live. We might understand the offense of the cross within governmental decisions, but what about churches that refuse to put up a cross. Isn’t that foolish?
You see, the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. Holy Scripture is God’s Word to the wise. It tells us of the God who is, not the god we want. The God of the Bible is the only true God. Through Jesus’ death on a cross and his resurrection, he has brought us the only way to eternal life in heaven.
Because of Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection three days later and our Spirit-created faith in that seemingly foolish way of salvation, we are forgiven fools. We are fools for Christ’s sake. If proclaiming Christ crucified and living under the truth of Christ’s cross and outside the freedom of his empty tomb is foolishness, then call us fools – forever, forgiven, and fruitful fools for Christ!