Wisdom v foolishness
1 Corinthians 1: 18-25 (NRSVA)
18 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. 19 For it is written,
‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’
20 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? 21 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. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23 but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
My Father-in-law was a chemist. At one time he worked for a soft-drinks firm, making essences. He used to give talks at which his favourite trick was to invite people to taste his drinks – but the orange-coloured one would taste of blackcurrant, the green one of strawberry and so on. Great fun.
Our senses can mislead us!
We hear a lot now about conspiracy theories where people try to persuade others that nothing is what it seems, and that what is presented as good and healthy and helpful is in fact bad and harmful. And people believe it, and a lot of damage is done.
How do we know what to believe?
‘God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform’, says William Cowper’s hymn which ends ‘God is his own interpreter, and he will make it plain’.
No coincidence for me that this hymn was included in our Wednesday Worship service last week along with ‘Trust and obey’.
We are asked to believe that God uses the foolish things to confound the wise. That he would come among us, not as a conquering king on a warhorse but as a baby in a cowshed. Aye right…
Of course God has a sense of humour.
God of wisdom,
of perfect sense,
Give us grace, we pray,
to recognise the wisdom of your mysterious ways,
and to trust and obey.