Fools for God’s Wisdom

1 Corinthians 3:18-19 “Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.”

The message of God’s word is our common birthright as Christians. Anyone familiar with it ought to realize that God’s view of what is wise or foolish, and the world’s view of what is wise or foolish, are usually opposites. The world celebrates the lifting of every sexual boundary and safeguard. It considers every restriction harmful. The wisdom that comes from God’s word teaches the opposite. It recognizes that the “sexual revolution” confirms people in self-destructive lifestyles, because “he who sins sexually sins against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18).

More to the context here, the wisdom of this world suggests that you can become more prestigious, you can rise in the respect of others, if you are associated with the right people. It is wise to adopt the popular positions on key issues. This was going on in a small way in Corinth. Members of the congregation were guilty of name-dropping. They lined themselves up with famous leaders in the church in order to make themselves look more important or better educated.

But there was no difference in the teachings of Paul, Peter or Apollos, the men they were elevating. Saying you followed one didn’t make you wiser than those who claimed to follow another. On the contrary, it revealed a dangerous sense of pride. This attempt to acquire a morsel of donated dignity, this perceived need to be popular, caused divisions. Even more, it suggested that these people might value the acceptance, praise, and respect of charismatic leaders over the truth of God’s word. When the world came along with some immoral teaching that “anybody with any brains believes,” would they have the backbone to resist it? Would their desire to “be somebody” cause them to stumble? They might become “wise” in the eyes of the world, but big fools in the eyes of God.

Are we willing to be considered fools by the world around us? Are we secure enough in our faith and God’s love for us to stay true to the foolish things God asks us to believe? Part of what makes you and me valuable assets not only to the Church, but to the foolish world around us, is the biblical wisdom we possess in common.

The world ridicules us for believing that Jesus, with his selfless sacrifice and free forgiveness, is the only way to heaven. “How narrow-minded!” they say. “Do you really think God is going to condemn all the Buddhists, or all the Hindus, or all the Muslims? How foolish!” But it’s true! Not because we are any better than Buddhists, Hindus, or Muslims, but because no one can work his way to heaven. Jesus is the only one holding out the way of God’s free and unconditional grace and forgiveness.

It’s not about us. It’s about him. If we ever give that up to join the ranks of the worldly wise, we will cease to be of any use to our world anymore. But as long as we still possess God’s wisdom of salvation by grace, and share that wisdom, we are worth more than all the advice columnists in all the newspapers. We will be wiser than all the professors in all the universities in all the world. We share this great value in common: we possess the wisdom of God’s word. It is worth being thought a fool by our world.

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