Monday, January 30, 2017

“The Foolishness of It All” (I Corinthians 1:18-31)

“For the message of the cross is foolishness . . .”

The ways of God are not the ways of the world.  Nor are the ways of God our ways.  I cannot imagine a single one of us sitting in this sanctuary disagreeing with that assessment--God’s ways are not our ways.  In fact, I would further imagine that for all of us, the truth of the matter is . . . we just don’t get God’s way of doing things.

God’s way seem to contradict the world’s ways . . . in the economical, sociological, political, and religious fields upon which life is waged on a daily basis.  Also, for us as individuals.  God’s ways seem to clash with the world’s and our ways.  History proves this out over and over again.  God’s ways seem foolish in light of the world in which we live.  They don’t seem to make sense.

In the time of Jesus, Jesus did not make sense.  For a people under the burden of a militaristic and brutal empire, searching for a savior to free them from their oppression--Jesus did not fit the mold.  They were looking for a savior to take sword against sword to free them from their oppression.  A mighty warrior king.  This is what they were seeking from God . . . and, God gave them Jesus.

Through Jesus, God set forth the plan of restoring the kingdom.  Through Jesus, God planned on freeing the people from their oppression.  Through Jesus, God gave the people their savior and he wasn’t anything like they were expecting.  He was not a powerful warrior king--shoot, he wasn’t even noble.  He was the son of a carpenter.  He wasn’t wealthy.  He wasn’t important.  He wasn’t powerful.  He wasn’t political.  Yet, through this man, God planned to save the people . . . to save humanity . . . and, to restore the kingdom once and for all.

Sounds foolish, doesn’t it?  Or, as the Apostle Paul states, “For the message of the cross is foolishness . . .”

And, yet, isn’t the faith we proclaim as the church--the body of Christ, and as individuals beliefs based upon this foolishness?

The argument in Paul’s words this morning is about the cross and the apparent foolishness that it represents to the world.  To the world the cross carried the finality of it all--it was done.  Those in power saw the movement of Jesus as being crushed with his crucifixion upon the cross.  The disciples . . . the followers . . . they all scattered.  For all intent purposes, it was done.  Yet, the ways of the world . . . the ways of humans . . . are not God’s ways.  The cross was not the end . . . it was the beginning.  The beginning of a world and way of living that contradicted the ways of the world then and now.

To the world it all seemed to be foolishness.  To those who believe and follow Jesus . . . well, it is the only way.  To the world it makes no sense.  Yet, the apostle tells us, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”

And, yet . . . nothing has changed . . . has it?

When we look at the history of humanity, has anything changed?  Have any of our ways brought about the Kingdom of God?  Are we any better than we were in the time of Jesus?  I guess that is something we can think about; in the meantime . . . what are we going to do?

Well, what we are going to do is to do what humans have always attempted to do, and that is to conform God and God’s ways into what works for us and our ways.  Last week in our scripture lesson the Apostle Paul state that there is only one as the church argued the ways of different leaders within the congregation.  Each argued that their way was the best way, the only way.  For Paul this was nonsense as he understood that the only way was Jesus--his words and life.  Jesus was the way.

Just because the apostle said it, it doesn’t mean that people are going to buy it.  They want proof.  In looking at Jesus--his words, actions, and results--the people do not see what the world perceives as important.  No, what they see in Jesus is a contradiction--foolishness; and, yet, this is the way of God.  And, the only way that the world can reconcile this to the world’s ways is to bend, twist, and ignore the ways of Jesus to accomplish the goals it desires.  The end result is that the Kingdom of God is no closer to being realized . . . nothing changes . . . then or now.

The Apostle Paul argues that despite how foolish the ways of God might look to the world, it is the way that God has chosen to accomplish this task of restoring the kingdom.  Also, it is through Jesus that the world--humanity--has been given the pattern, the model, to execute and follow.  Jesus said it in the Gospel of John: “I am the way and the truth and the life.”  Then to emphasize it all, Jesus finished the statement with these words: “No one comes to the Father except through me.”

It is the only way . . . as foolish as it seems or looks--it is the only way.

Because it is the only way that the Kingdom of God will succeed and be established, the ways of the world must be held up to the ways of Jesus.  Where those ways do not fit with Jesus and his ways, they must be let go and replaced . . . replaced with what Jesus would want . . . with what Jesus would do.  If we are going to wear WWJD--What Would Jesus Do--paraphernalia . . . jewelry, shirts, posters, coffee cups--then we better live up to it.  If we are going to use the words that Jesus spoke to explain the faith we proclaim, then we better live up to it.  And, our actions better fit the words we speak . . . after all, they are Jesus’ words.

As foolish as it seems we--the followers of Jesus--must shed the ways of the world to embrace the world as jesus did.  We must love and live as Jesus did. It will not be as the world does, but it will be the way that Jesus does.  It is the only way.  The apostle concludes his argument: “Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.’”

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”  Amen.

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