Monday, August 18, 2008
The Wisdom Crutch
Tell me if this sounds familiar: a society that has fallen away from God and toward self-gratification and arrogance. A world-renown major metropolis that has an influx of every religion possible to the point where no one can point out the "right" belief without being labeled intolerant. A church in that city that, too, has fallen away from God, become corrupt with heresy and infighting and surrender to the same temptations that non-believers fell into. This could be any city in America today, but this particular example comes from first century Corinth, the town which Paul spent well over a year and a half building up a church, only to see it fall under attack from society and man's foolish wisdom.
This is one of the reasons why Paul writes 1 Corinthians, a letter of reprimand, instruction and encouragement to this floundering church. This was a church that started out great and strong, but dissolved into quite un-Christian-like practices: the Holier-Than-Thou crowd, people who were sinning just as bad as any nonbeliever and didn't care, lawsuits were being filed between believers, Paul himself was attacked verbally, and their theology was completely shaky. It was clear to Paul that they'd reverted to relying on man's wisdom as a crutch instead of God's supreme wisdom.
I was thinking about this a lot this past weekend, how we have yet again arrived in an age (maybe we never left it) where society seems so proud of how evolved and intelligent it's become that it's becoming bold in pronouncing itself emancipated from God -- after all, we have science! Philosophy! Our own streamlined, manipulated list of morals and values! And it's not just outside of the church walls, but inside as well. I think if Paul could look at our churches today, he'd write some of the same exact things he wrote to the Corinthian church, especially the section in 1:18-2:5, an entire passage on God's wisdom vs. the world's wisdom.
Verse 18: "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing" -- How true is this? People lost without God think that Jesus as a savior is one of the dumbest, most laughable thoughts possible. Jesus is belittled on TV and in movies, he is treated like an outdated cliché, and to those who aren't ready to really hear the message, it's just pure silliness to them.
Verse 20: "Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" This topic was sparked by a friend of mine who was recommending the book The God Delusion, in which the author (an evolutionist atheist) pronounces for once and all that God is dead and useless, and proceeds to attempt to break us away from our dependence on God by irrefutable proof through science and society. Yet all I can think about is the sheer arrogance of humanity in this, how quickly we forget that we are not anywhere near an apex of human thought and wisdom, and yet we think we know enough to cast God aside for all time. If we have learned so much in the past few thousand years, then it stands to reason that there's going to be a whole lot more to learn in the next few thousand years and our current understanding and levels of wisdom have a long way to go. So how are we suddenly so smart as to eliminate God from the equation? I don't understand that.
Verse 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." Once again, I see the theme of God hating arrogance so incredibly much that he would rather work through a "foolish" person or a "weak" guy to do his work than the mightiest, smartest man on the planet. Is it so surprising that so many of our most "intelligent" scientists have denounced God, whereas the humble man or woman still sees a need for the divine in our life? Paul even humbles himself in 2:3 -- he was weak, fearful and full of trembling, but he came to share the gospel and that he did.