March 16, 2011
The Fool for Christ
Katherine Britton, Crosswalk News & Culture editor
"Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? 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." 1 Corinthians 1:20-21
I read Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment for fun when I was 15. In college, I took classes on constitutional law and Byzantium and Islam as electives. Now, I'm an editor who reads and writes all day, and lo, the sun shineth upon my great vinyl desk. I'm definitely an academic at heart. And who doesn't like to appear smart? Or wise? Or "in the know"? Or just downright witty and funny? In my human heart, I love it when someone says, "Wow, that's a great point" or "Haha! Great comeback!" to something I said.
You can imagine me deflating when a Sunday school teacher brought out these verses a few days ago. What do you mean I'm called to look like a fool? God nudged me and I looked back with a little pout. Then He nudged me again and pointed to his "more excellent way." (1 Cor. 12:31)
The apostle Paul had the ability - and the guts - to take on the philosophers of Athens, the Jewish elite, and any other wise guy who came his way. But in his God-given wisdom, he understood that it wasn't about winning the argument, or even sounding intelligent. His goal was to speak God's truth and let the Lord work on people's hearts and minds.
Paul knew that "the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing" - those who don't know Christ don't "get" what's so earth-shattering about the Gospel. Yet "to us who are being saved it is the power of God," (1 Cor. 1:18) it's far more incredible than anything Plato could dream up or Shakespeare could write. The fact that God took me when I was dead in sin and made me "alive together with Christ" (Eph. 2:5) shuts my mouth and heart to anything "smart" I have to say. There's no room for my tiny human accomplishments beside God's infinite wisdom and work. God's love simply overwhelms, well, everything. That humbles me. My attitude should be like that in the praise song:
How can I keep from singing Your praise?
How can I ever say enough?
How amazing is Your love!
How can I keep from shouting Your name?
I know I am loved by the King
And it makes my heart want to sing.
Everything else is just tomfoolery compared to such grace. How can I keep from singing His wisdom?
Intersection of Faith & Life: In your conversations today, ask yourself what's behind your words. Is it a motivation to be funny for its own sake? Impress someone with your knowledge? Or to live out the Gospel by humility, edification, and love?