1 Corinthians 2:6-10 “We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’ – but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.”
The difference between these two kinds of “wisdom” is not a simple matter of alternative paths. When I want to visit my parents, I can either take I-35 north all the way to Minnesota, or I can follow I-44 to U.S. 71 to I-35. They are two different paths, but both will get me to the same place. God’s wisdom and the world’s wisdom don’t take you to the same places, either along the way or in the end.
Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, and the life; the narrow door and the narrow path; the only way to the Father; the guaranteed way to the Father is God’s wisdom. The world’s wisdom teaches a general equality of all world religions, or, even worse, a generic, empty “spirituality” preferred by more and more Americans. The world’s paths lead neither to God nor to life. To quote Paul’s words here, “they are coming to nothing.”
But they are packaged and marketed to us in a way that make them hard to resist. Their constant promotion keeps wearing away at our resistance. The positive spin sounds like this: if you adopt the world’s wisdom, you will be more popular, have more fun, be more intelligent, and act more just or fair. The negative spin warns that if you reject the world’s wisdom in favor of God’s, you are an extremist, intolerant, bigoted, and guilty of trampling on other’s rights and freedoms. It’s a great marketing campaign, maybe the best there ever was. You feel its tug. In the next 20 years it is expected to capture 70 percent of the church’s youth, never to return. We need the assurances Paul is giving us today.
“No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” “God’s secret wisdom” is not so much the matter of godly morals. Those should be written in human hearts by nature (though more and more people manage to shut that message off or shout it down).
Paul is talking about the gospel. The Lord of glory was crucified for us. Look at the facts of Jesus’ life. If God didn’t intervene in human history, who would have known about this person who lived and died in the obscurity of Roman occupied Israel? When Jesus was born, who would have known if God hadn’t send angels to tell the shepherds, “Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.” When Jesus died on the cross, who really believed they were crucifying the “Lord of glory”? His own disciples seemed to have given up on the idea. When Jesus rose again, it took the intervention of angels to convince the women his body was alive, not stolen. Without God’s own intervention, this would have remained God’s little secret.
More than historical facts, God’s secret wisdom includes the meaning of Jesus for us: “As it is written, ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” In Jesus, God entered our world as one of us. He paid for all our sins by his own death. He freely forgave every sin and set us free from them. He made life and immortality our own as his gift. Who would have guessed that? The operative word in our relationship with God is not “obedience,” or “purpose,” or “effort,” or “sincerity,” or “passion.” It is grace. Grace makes us confident of his love. It gives us hope that we will live with him. It is this grace, God’s gift love, that has been hidden from the ages, including our own.
As one commentator noted, “No heathen people ever conceived a god who would actually take care of those who placed their reliance on him.” They lived in fear, not faith. They had to work their magic and pay their dues to keep their gods happy and themselves safe.
A God who freely loves us as a Father, and freely forgives? That’s our message, Paul says, and that’s God’s wisdom.