During the summer as you ran around on your study abroad and worked at your dream internship, did you ever feel like you were pretending to be an adult? Maybe you were a camp counselor leading children or maybe you worked in retail earning money for tuition. Regardless of what you were doing, summer is usually a time where we are trying new things, learning about who we are and learning just how wise we think we are. It's an experience that we try to carry over with us as we go back to school in the fall.
Today’s scripture is a letter written to the Corinthians. As you read it, think about all the times when you thought you had life figured out. Think about what the world tells you about wisdom and what it means to be wise.
1 CORINTHIANS 1:26-2:5
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 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. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not —to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
1 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
1) Who were you when you were called into a relationship with Jesus?
2) Who are you now?
3) Why did God choose the foolish things, the lowly thing and the despised things?
4) How is this different from our world today and how we view people whom we think wise?
I cannot imagine Paul’s humility. In the college world, Greek students have it all together. It is Greeks who typically hold leadership positions, and they are the ones on homecoming court. They work hard and party hard! Despite all the accolades that Greek students accumulate, it is nothing compared to what Paul had accumulated in his life. He was from a wealthy merchant family, was a Roman citizen and he was so well thought of in the religious community that he had risen to be a prominent Pharisee. Yet he says at the end of this passage, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power – so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but God’s power.”
In today’s world, to not take credit for your own ability is considered foolish. Our world is so consumed by the idea that everyone can “lift ourselves up by our boot straps” and “make something of yourself” that it seems preposterous that God would come to us through the foolish things. Even in the Christian pop culture world we celebrate our talented leaders and elevate them to celebrity status. But Paul, who has every right to boast, chooses not to. He chooses to give all the praise to God. Paul does this because he wants to boast in the LORD. It is not his brilliance or wisdom that allows him to belong to Jesus. It is because of GOD that Paul is in Christ Jesus, and it is Christ Jesus who became Paul’s wisdom.
So, what about us? For those of us who are lucky enough to have gone to college, it is tempting to boast in ourselves and rely on our own wisdom, but this leads us into a rat race of trying to always prove ourselves to others. It leads us to try to be somebody that God doesn’t want us to be. Trying to make it, but ultimately failing. But there is hope. When we follow Paul’s example, and believe that “it is because of him (GOD) that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is our righteousness, holiness and redemption” we can leave the rat race. We can boast in God’s strength and let our faith rest in God’s power. This is how we become wise.
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