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A Reflection on 1 Corinthians…and a favorite childhood story…

1 Corinthians 1:27-31 (ESV)
27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him<sup class="footnote" value="[e]”> you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

When I finished the book A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle when I was in 3rd grade,  it was the first time I had really paid attention to this passage in the Bible.  When Mrs. Who gives this passage to Meg as a gift as Meg is getting ready to go back to “darkened” Camazotz on her own to retrieved her little brother, she tells Meg not to try and decipher it word for word, but to understand it in a flash…as she understood the tesseract (if you’re utterly confused by that, you really need to read the book).  Being the type to get enveloped in the story of a book, becoming the character and seeing all they see in that private corner of my mind, I was doing exactly that…trying to understand this passage “in a flash”.  I didn’t know what that meant, so I just read on to see how Meg would decipher that passage. 

With so many years under my belt since then (and understanding, but not wholeheartedly agreeing with Ms. L’Engle’s theological perspective on Christianity), I have finally started to formulate that “understanding in a flash” that Mrs. Who spoke of.  

Starting…still have lots to uncover from this rich text…

I really don’t see myself as someone who is wise.  Academically, I performed above average and I have some amount common sense (maybe not as much as I would like)…but I do not have that brilliance and cunning that so many people I have come across have had.  Without a doubt, there were many times (too many to count), where we would get into a discussion (or argument) over my beliefs…they demanding I explain and convince them why this God I believed in was worth believing in.  And almost 99% of the time (ok, maybe closer to 100%), I wouldn’t know what to tell them…and they would leave triumphant, believing they had won the argument and won me over to their side.  But no…I would feel dejected, unworthy of God’s love and grace because I couldn’t defend Him as I felt I should, but NEVER would the naysayers win me over to doubting my God and all He had done for me.

Sure, they had won the verbal battle, 
but not the spiritual war!

Now, with the level of technology that we have, the conversations have taken their stage in the World Wide Web…with people taking up arms on both sides, trying to shame and put down the other.  There are so many times I would see comments by the naysayers on YouTube, Facebook, and blogs, calling Christians (and in effect, ME) idiots, mindless followers…even describing us as “evil” and “murderers” (I could elaborate on my views on using those words to label Christians…namely, I agree to some extent, but not in the way they think…but that’s topic for another conversation later).  If I had a nickel for every time I wrote a scathing comment back, only to delete it before posting, I wouldn’t be in the financial hole that I’m in now. 

So what does this all have to do with 1 Corinthians?

I’ve come to the realization that part of the reason those who speak/spoke against my faith (whether directed at me or the Church as a whole…sometimes in civil conversation, other times with much malice and spite) is because of what Paul spoke of in this passage.  The wisdom of God does seem to be foolishness in the eyes of mankind…we cannot wrap our heads around the idea that we are to believe and trust in something that cannot be seen, touched, or comprehended with any of our other 3 basic senses.  It seems that human nature would then dictate a defensive response to mankind’s lack of understanding…we shun, shy away, and sometimes maliciously attack what we cannot comprehend.  We say things like, “That’s stupid!” or “That’s evil!” because we do not want to admit in our arrogance as the dominating species of the world that there is something in the world that we cannot explain.  I know I for one have done that with so many concepts and ideas and new methods that I have come across…for the sheer fact that I’m not all knowing and don’t want to admit it. 

That is part of our sin nature…and non-Christians and Christians are all guilty of doing this.  Non-Christians cannot understand this “wisdom” of God, and professing to be wise, shun the idea.  In the same way, part of the reason Christians have gained this reputation for being “fools” and ridiculed for blindly following God is because we return malice with malice.  We use the same hateful and belligerent language that is thrown at us.  How can we convince others of a loving and merciful God (and the ultimate sacrifice of love demonstrated by Christ on the cross) if we are not at least reflecting (imperfect as it may be) the God we profess?  To us, it seems foolish to take God’s example of loving those who hurt us…but in the end, there is wisdom in His way…people tend to respond more positively to love and care than hate and malice. 

And that is the message that Mrs. Who was conveying to Meg when she gave her this passage as a “gift”…Meg may not be able to follow IT in IT’s “logical” thinking…but the wisdom she had that those who sent her loved her and her undying faith in that love is what allowed her to pry her brother from the grasp of this evil IT.  That understanding (which IT could not comprehend) and the love she showed for her brother is what ultimately saved her brother from IT’s control.

Trust in what seems to be the “foolishness of God”, for it is truly greater than any “wisdom” man could conceive.

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