If you are a disciple of Jesus, I am sure you have noticed how much Christians are made fun of and ridiculed and even hated. I guess there is something about us and what we believe that just tickles people — or flat out makes them angry. You can talk about aliens invading our nation, and people will make a hero out of you. But if you dare to stand on the Truth of the Word of God and proclaim that Salvation is through Jesus alone, people will fall off their chairs laughing at you — or they will physically attack you.
Why is that? What is it about simply sharing Good News to everyone who is willing listen that seems so humorous? I was listening to one brother and in his opinion it is because of their guilt and pride. Just your mere presence is enough to trigger the guilt. But Paul attempted to help us understand the world’s animosity against us. And his words say more about them than it does us. If you turn to Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, you will learn why they not only do not understand what you believe, but also, why your mere presence makes them angry.
Paul wrote, “The message about the cross is nonsense to those who are being destroyed . . .” (I Corinthians 1:18) So just the idea of the message makes no sense to them. It is foolishness. That’s right; those in the world are perishing, and their sins are destroying their lives, but they are not interested in hearing how their condition can be corrected, but they put credence into thinking that rattlesnakes will cure rheumatism! Or that corpses can cure boils! Or even that earwax will heal cold sores!
Okay, so the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. But to those of us who have experienced the wonders of Grace, it is the power of God! Go ahead and try to explain that to someone who does know or understand the message of Christ. Paul quotes Isaiah 29:14 which says that God will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and He will frustrate the intelligence of the intelligent. Look at that verse:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise.
I will reject the intelligence of intelligent people.” (Isaiah 28:14)
“So,” asks Paul, “Where is the wise person? Where is the scholar? Where is the persuasive speaker of our time? Hasn’t God turned the wisdom of the world into nonsense?” (I Corinthians 1:19) The world with all of its wisdom was unable to recognize Yahweh in terms of His wisdom. So, He decided to use the nonsense of the message of Christ to save those who believe. As Kemper Crabb has said, “Anything that takes issue with Scripture is a lie!”
Even some “believers” are only looking for miraculous signs, but friends, our message is real simple: Christ was crucified because of our sins! As a result, he died and was raised up to enforce the Liberty He purchased for us! The reason the message offends people is because it makes no sense to them. But to those of us who respond to His call, He is Christ, God’s power, and God’s wisdom. Our God’s nonsense is wiser than any human wisdom, and His weakness is stronger than human strength.
What you have to know is that in Corinth’s carnal culture, they saw the scholars and the philosophers of their day as the “Top Dogs,” the way we view rock stars in our day. Because they were so “special,” they could solve all of their problems.
Their arrogance and pride are what caused Paul to confront this faulty and foolish mindset and hit it head-on in his attempt to dismantle and destroy it. By the way, this also explains why he addressed their carnality of esteeming one rock star teacher over the other back in verses 12-17.
That’s where he complained how some of them were proclaiming that they followed him; others followed Apollos; others followed Peter, and still others said (rather self-righteously) only followed Christ. They were all screwed up and had acquiesced to the carnality of Corinth’s culture — which is what our modern day churches are doing. Oh, they receive kudos from the non-believers, but the spirits of Disciples cry in dismay.
The problem is that our modern churches (and the church in Corinth ) advocate[d] a cultural worldview contrary to the Biblical worldview, which is foolish in the eyes of the world. But again, why does God make foolish and destroy the wisdom of the world, and frustrate the intelligence of the intelligent?
The answer isn’t hard to miss; it is, “pride!” Our pride is the common denominator with both the scholars and the philosophers of any age. And the Scriptures are replete with declarations of how Yahweh resists the proud.
When Charles Spurgeon said, “Fine preaching feeds man’s pride; plain [humble] preaching brings glory to God and benefit to men,” he hit it on the head, didn’t he?
Please understand that I am not saying there is anything wrong with a Christian who possesses the intellect of a scholar. Our churches are filled with them! But their degrees are not what provides their wisdom, nor do any of their accomplishments make them more intellectually advanced. Only the Wisdom the comes from our God is their Glory! What they need to continually ask themselves whether their worldly honors possess them spiritually.
Oh, I better explain that one . . . it doesn’t matter what we have; it is what has us. Has your degrees and wealth and all of the accolades you receive, become your obsession? Have they become the focal point of your life?
What I am asking is, do all of the things you have accomplished and all of the things you currently possess, identify who you are? Do they define who you are? When people hear about them, are you filled with pride, or does your heart offer the gratitude to your father?
I saw this exemplified in the life of my father-in-law. He was a P38 pilot who was shot down, and became a POW. He later became a successful businessman and built a sizable net worth; yet, through it all, has remained unassuming and humble, I have never seen an ounce of guile or pride in him.
The important issue we need to be mindful of is that as Disciples of Christ, we should never be defined by who we are, or what we do. Our only value and honor belong to Who Jesus Christ is as the I AM and all of the sacrificial things He performed.
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list.