Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Christ, the power and wisdom of God

21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, 23 but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. I Corinthians 1:21-25 (NRSV)

When I was a child, my father read to my sister and me a collection of stories and poems that included some of Aesop’s fables. One of my favorites was a fable about the Sun and the North Wind who entered into a competition to see who was the most powerful. They each used their own “power” tomake a traveler take off his cloak. The North Wind, who thought the Sun was weak and foolish, blew as hard as it could, but the traveler only clutched his cloak tighter. Then, the Sun shone brightly, and it was so hot that the traveler removed his cloak of his own accord.

Verse 21 tells us that God knows that we could not begin to comprehend Him through wisdom. All of the science and understanding we have of the world around us is only a drop in the vast ocean of God’s knowledge and wisdom. We can only shrink and recoil in the presence of such immense greatness, power and wisdom.

But God, in His vast, unfathomable knowledge, provided a way for us to glimpse His greatness and power. He sent Christ, who was crucified for us. Paul said that Christ was a scandal (this is the literal meaning of stumbling block) to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles who try to seek God through knowledge, but to those whose hearts are open to the truth, this act of humility and grace is the ultimate power and wisdom of God. Just as in Aesop’s fable, God could easily prove Himself to us by demonstrating His greatness and glory, but His power is so great that we could not withstand it (Exodus 33:22). God chose to demonstrate His power to us through the reflected light of grace so we can openly and freely embrace it.