1CORINTHIANS 1:18-31 (NIV – UK)
Christ crucified is God’s power and wisdom
18 For the message of 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; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ [Isaiah 29:14]
20 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? 21 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. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’ [Jeremiah 9:24]
Have you ever wanted to possess true wisdom? If so, there’s good news – Jesus offers it to us in abundance. Paul tells us: ‘Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth’ (v. 26). It doesn’t matter who you are, what your background is, whether you have no qualifications or a PhD – true wisdom doesn’t depend on those things.
The world views wisdom and power in a particular way. When the world looks at Jesus dying on the cross it doesn’t see wisdom or power. The Jews cannot accept that God would humble himself in such a way and the gentiles just see it as absurd foolishness. ‘Why on earth would God, who has infinite wisdom, power and majesty, let himself be humiliated in that way? That’s not wise or powerful – that’s weak and foolish!’
But in thinking this, the world merely exposes how far it has fallen from the heart of God. The world wants to be forceful, ruthless and self-righteous – but the heart of God is humble, loving and selfless. That is why the Cross of Christ seems like foolishness to the world – two complete opposites are colliding.
Paul means to give us a warning: be careful not to be drawn in by worldly wisdom – reject the wisdom of the world. What the world sees as foolishness is our salvation (v. 21). But if you look at the Cross of Christ and see wisdom and power and believe, then you already possess immeasurably more wisdom than the world can offer. The ‘wisdom’ of the world does not lead us to God – only the ‘foolishness’ of the Cross does that.
Question: How do you guard yourself against worldly wisdom?