Today, I am reading and commenting on 1 Corinthians 1-4.
When I first started reading this passage the first thing I thought I would focus on was Paul’s words about divisions in the Church. However, as soon as I started to read on to decide how to say what this passage says to me I was struck by the following:
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.
It immediately reminded me of an online conversation I had the other week where some of my Facebook friends completely missed the point of an article I posted about how Christians view death and dying in the context of the shooting during a worship service in Texas. If you do not believe and understand that Jesus achieved victory by dying on the Cross, there is no way you will understand that Christians do not consider death a punishment, let alone understand our willingness to suffer so that others do not. Call me a fool, and those friends of mine did, but I will continue to believe that obeying God is wise, no matter how foolish it seems to my fellow humans. I know that I cannot possibly explain how weakness can be stronger than power. Yet, I also know that I will work harder to do a good job on something for someone who is powerless than someone who threatens me. Even that fails to explain how God works. Ultimately, you must take it on faith that there is more joy in suffering and dying than in conquering the world. Once more I find my expression failing because Jesus conquered the world by suffering and dying.
I am not sure that I ever noticed the connection Paul makes here between wisdom, foolishness, and division in the Church. If I thought about it I just put the placement of Paul’s comments about Godly wisdom vs worldly wisdom in the middle of his writings about divisions in the Corinthian Church down to flow of consciousness writing. While there is a little bit of that here, when Paul goes completely off track he makes a point of saying something along the lines of, “Now back to what I was talking about…” In this case, Paul shows every indication that his discussion of godly wisdom was part of his effort to stifle division in the Church. Paul does not address it directly here, but division in the Church is a failure of its members to remember what Christ teaches about leadership. Division in the Church comes about when people focus on what they get out of the Church rather than on how they can serve Christ and others. Those who seek to be acknowledged as wiser than others rather than just seeking wisdom.