Read I Corinthians 1.18-31

                For the message about the cross is foolishness 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, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.  For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

                 Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  But 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, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.  He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

 

From Rev. William Flewelling, Proctor, WV

                From the beginning, the followers of Jesus who preached the message of Jesus had the enduring problem of the cross.  In modern times, we find we bother little with the cross.  In the earliest time, though, the cross was THE embarrassment.  It spoke of shame and curse and foolishness.  Yet the fact of the matter remained: Jesus was crucified and his followers did not (even if they could) disguise that fact.  They certainly wouldn’t make it up: instead they set out to show that the cross answered fundamental issues of life and creation under the theme of redemption.

                Paul makes it clear that the cross itself is a scandal to Jews and folly to Greeks.  Here is something so out of place in serious and traditional thought as to be found ridiculous.  Paul notes the cross marks a curse, claims Jesus (who knew no sin) became sin.  He teaches that the subjection of people to other powers, other authorities – understood spiritually, most of all – are ended at the cross.  And here he admits to these proud and wise Corinthian Christians that only insiders – those being saved – realize that the cross is the power of God.  Everyone else finds it foolishness.  And to bother speaking of a cross as do Christians is to those outside, sheer folly.

                Something in this doesn’t match up well.  He is encountering a congregation in which he had invested a year and a half of his ministry.  He knows them to be an exceptional people, a people of great spiritual experience and a divisive sort of pride.  They seem to squabble among themselves and portray a real party spirit, one against another.  Within his presentation there appears a sense that these people are attached to themes of wisdom, their own brand of traditional wisdom.  Into this dissention he remembers the word of the cross; he knows they heard it because he preached it to them!  The word of the cross breaks down the barriers our wisdom puts up; the word of the cross is the power of God – a power all our wise constructs don’t get.  We think the cross folly – a folly wiser than the wisest wisdom we know.

Our God, in your wisdom folly reigns;
the cross of shame is the power of freedom in heart and Spirit. 
Bring into our hearts the humble, guileless joy
that knows your power in Christ Jesus, the Crucified.
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