Reflection April 12
"Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength." 1 Cor. 1:20-25
When the reign of God breaks into human history, when the sinless Christ walks among a sinful humanity, this apocalyptic entrance is first and foremost an interruption.
As Calvin said, the human heart is a “perpetual factory of idols.” Seeking to rule over ourselves, we become slaves to our passions (Rom 1:28) and worship the created things rather than the Creator (Rom 1:25). For this reason, the human condition is one of blindness, one of absolute resistance to divine revelation.
Hear the Word of the Lord from the Prophet Isaiah:
“The vision of this has become for you like the words of a sealed document. If it is given to those who can read, with the command, ‘Read this,’ they say, ‘We cannot, for it is sealed.’ And if it given to those who cannot read, saying, ‘Read this,’ they say, ‘We cannot read’” (Isa 29:11–12).
In other words, we have distorted our values and our loves, abstracting them from God’s glory and instead choosing to adore finite and created things.
But God, in response to human rejection, will do an even greater work. The Prophet continues:
“The Lord said:
Because these people draw near with their mouths
and honor me with their lips,
while their hearts are far from me,
and their worship of me is a human commandment learned by rote;
so I will again do
amazing things with this people,
shocking and amazing.
The wisdom of their wise shall perish,
and the discernment of the discerning shall be hidden”
God will miraculously break through the barriers built by humanity through the complete revelation of his wisdom and power, a wisdom and power so counter-intuitive that human culture perceives them to be foolish and weak. He will interrupt the tragic and misguided flow of human history. When the fullness of God’s revelation walks among men, it comes as a humble and meek Jewish peasant, washing the feet of his friends and dying on a cross with the forgiveness of his enemies on his lips.
What nonsense! What absurdity!
But this revelation, this foolishness and weakness, opens up a new way of being human. By following this man, Jesus of Nazareth, we encounter the very embodiment of wisdom and power in the simplicity and humility of the cross and are thus transformed. And by the power of God’s Spirit, our words and actions become creaturely echoes of God’s foolishness and weakness.
Through the season of Lent, the Christian tradition has given us a time to consider the radically counter-intuitive nature of our Story. As we contemplate the suffering and humiliation of Christ, we are reminded that, in a broken world, this is what power and wisdom look like. This is at once both terrifying and liberating – Lent is the time set apart where we might pray for the courage and strength to emulate the shocking character of our Savior.
May we, following our Savior, walk the world as the foolishness and weakness of God.