Christ Is God's Power
18The message about the cross doesn't make any sense to lost people. But for those of us who are being saved, it is God's power at work. 19 As God says in the Scriptures,
“I will destroy the wisdom
of all who claim
to be wise.
I will confuse those
who think they know
20 What happened to those wise people? What happened to those experts in the Scriptures? What happened to the ones who think they have all the answers? Didn't God show that the wisdom of this world is foolish? 21 God was wise and decided not to let the people of this world use their wisdom to learn about him.
Instead, God chose to save only those who believe the foolish message we preach. 22Jews ask for miracles, and Greeks want something that sounds wise. 23But we preach that Christ was nailed to a cross. Most Jews have problems with this, and most Gentiles think it is foolish. 24Our message is God's power and wisdom for the Jews and the Greeks that he has chosen. 25Even when God is foolish, he is wiser than everyone else, and even when God is weak, he is stronger than everyone else.
26My dear friends, remember what you were when God chose you. The people of this world didn't think that many of you were wise. Only a few of you were in places of power, and not many of you came from important families. 27But God chose the foolish things of this world to put the wise to shame. He chose the weak things of this world to put the powerful to shame.
28What the world thinks is worthless, useless, and nothing at all is what God has used to destroy what the world considers important. 29God did all this to keep anyone from bragging to him. 30You are God's children. He sent Christ Jesus to save us and to make us wise, acceptable, and holy. 31 So if you want to brag, do what the Scriptures say and brag about the Lord.
Telling about Christ
1Friends, when I came and told you the mystery that God had shared with us, I didn't use big words or try to sound wise. 2In fact, while I was with you, I made up my mind to speak only about Jesus Christ, who had been nailed to a cross.
3 At first, I was weak and trembling with fear. 4When I talked with you or preached, I didn't try to prove anything by sounding wise. I simply let God's Spirit show his power. 5That way you would have faith because of God's power and not because of human wisdom.
The Christian faith is not a philosophy. You don’t have to be clever to understand it. So Paul warned the Corinthians, don’t brag,
but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth.
(Jeremiah 9:24 NIV)
Of all people, the apostle Paul had what we usually think of as credentials. He lists them in Philippians 3:1-6. He fulfilled all the criteria of a perfect Jew – and then some, since he was a zealous law keeping Pharisee. But when Jesus stopped him on the road to Damascus he realized that all that he had staked his own self-worth on was valueless. The only thing that counted was knowing Jesus Christ. And you can’t do that by being clever.
You get to know Jesus Christ by looking at a man who was executed as a criminal and seeing that it wasn’t for his own sins that he died on a cross. You get to know him personally when you bow before him and thank him for dying for your sins. You get to know him more as you come to him over and over again and ask for forgiveness. You continue to get to know him as you spend time with him in prayer and obey him in everyday life.
This isn’t an intellectual exercise. It’s a matter of truth and reality that any child can grasp. It takes humility. You have to be prepared to let go of all the things that you cling to for self-worth. God takes all that away, and in its place gives you
- his infinite love,
- a family of other Christians,
- the Holy Spirit to live in you and give you the power to overcome temptation, to guide throughout your life, to be with you in all your troubles, to make you more and more like Christ,
- and a living hope for a future when all that is wrong will be made right.
No philosophy can do that.
Father, take away my pride and self-sufficiency. I humble myself before the cross on which Jesus died for my sins. Amen.