1 Corinthians 1:18-25
“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. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.’ Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
“For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
Happy New Year to you all! I pray that you had a wonderful time remembering the birth of our Savior and enjoying friends and family. I sure did.
Just a few days ago, I had the chance to see a short video collage of some of the Christmas services that some of the ‘churches’ in the USA did. There were some very ‘interesting’ shows (I would not call them worship services) attended by millions of people. One of the shows was alleged to have cost about $3,000,000. Wow, just wow! Some were entertaining, others very cringe-worthy. But they all speak of the ‘churches’ desire to make the Gospel more palatable to the masses.
There is a famous saying to the effect that ‘true Christianity is not popular, and popular Christianity is not true.’ I have attended well-produced Christian pageants; one of the local Pentecostal churches here in Mississauga used to put one on every year. Thousands came to see it, and I took many to see it. It covered from the manger to the cross to the empty tomb. It was wonderful. The Gospel was clearly laid out and an invitation to receive Jesus at the end. It has been years since I went there, and I am not even sure that they still do it. While this was professionally done, even using real animals and the like, there was no sensationalism to detract from Jesus as the focus.
In our passage today, Paul tells us an eternal truth – the Gospel in its pure form sounds like foolishness to the natural man. Only when we speak the truth of the scriptures and the Holy Spirit opens a person’s eyes can they see the sheer beauty of the Gospel. For those of us who have seen the truth, it never gets old. Those of us in church have heard the Gospel over and over again; I teach about it over and over. There is never a service where we do not speak of the Gospel. Even when it is not the main focus of a message, we always bring it back to this one central thing: Jesus and Him crucified.
I love the study of languages like Greek and the way that words are deliberate. I love the study of archeology and how many, many artifacts have confirmed the Bible. I love that they have discovered thousands and thousands of manuscripts over the centuries that confirm the scriptures; these are all wonderful. But for millennia, all that the Christians had was the word of God. Some had the Old Testament; some had fragments of the New Testament letters. It is unlikely that all of the churches had access to all of the epistles like we do today. But they had enough of the word of God to say it and for the Holy Spirit to take that and convert billions over the last 2 millennia. Romans 10:17 says this:
“So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”
Our only tool is the Bible, the word of God. We are called to speak it often, speak it clearly, and let God do the work that only He can do. Only He can open the eyes of spiritually blind men and make the Gospel make sense. No amount of pageantry, lighting, and performing will make it less foolish. It makes us look foolish.
We are fools for Christ; there is nothing that you can do about that. The very nature of the Gospel is foolish. Supreme Court Justice Scalia once said:
“God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world would view Christians as fools … and he has not been disappointed. If I have brought any message today, it is this: Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”
Paul told us this 2,000 years ago, and it still stands true. To the lost, the Gospel is foolishness. But to the saved, it is the greatest thing ever. Now, with our eyes opened and our hearts re-born, we can see the hand of God everywhere, and we can rejoice in the way He superintends our lives for His glory and for our good.
It is okay to be seen as a fool for Jesus. Just don’t be a fool. Stop trying to make the Gospel tastier to the masses; it is not and never will be. Stay the course; as Paul says, we preach Christ crucified, nothing less and nothing else. Stop the shows and the pageantry. Speak the clear, unadulterated Gospel in the simplest terms possible so that a child can understand it, and maybe, just maybe, some of the adults will get it, too.
Go! Be a fool for Jesus, repent, attend church, love your enemies, give to the work of the kingdom, forgive those that hurt you, and pray for the ones that hate you. Trust Jesus when things don’t work out, give Him the glory when they do, and trust that He has everything in His control. Godly wisdom is more than all the degrees in the world.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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