For some reason, I keep wanting to read the book of 1 Corinthians lately. I haven’t figured out why just yet, but it keeps popping into my mind. So, I’ve begun a few times, but I also have felt like I want to read the whole thing through in one setting, to perhaps get a better “big picture” context of the letter the apostle Paul penned.
But as I began one day recently, I noticed this long paragraph (which I broke into two, for easier on-screen reading).
“For God, in his wisdom, made it impossible for men to know him by means of their own wisdom. Instead God decided to save those who believe, by means of the “foolish” message we preach. Jews want miracles for proof, and Greeks look for wisdom.
As for us, we proclaim Christ on the cross, a message that is offensive to the Jews and nonsense to the Gentiles; but for those whom God has called, both Jews and Gentiles, this message is Christ, who is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For what seems to be foolishness is wiser than men’s wisdom, and stronger than men’s strength.”
I’ve read these words before, and heard them expounded upon. But for some reason they just presented the simplicity of the good news so clearly to me.
I love that the focus of our relationship with God is not on us. It’s on him. Not in a narcissistic way, as some imagine. God isn’t looking for people to “Become a Fan” on heaven’s Facebook. He wants to know us, and us to live life with and in him, and he makes that possible, not us.
“God made it impossible for men to know him by means of their own wisdom.” We can’t figure out God. We won’t get all the answers. It’s not even about the answers. Read on.
Paul explains that the Jews (his people) wanted God to reveal himself through powerful miracles. They expected God’s Messiah to come, and they expected him to be the King that would rule. They like that God would do big and powerful things for them.
The Greeks (Gentiles) wanted God to be the ultimately wise being. They wanted him to prove he was God by having all the answers.
This is like us. We still want these things from God today. We want him to fix stuff (we want to see his power), or we want to have all the answers. About him, and/or about our life and the world around us. We want to know “truth”—meaning, have black and white facts that we can know as “truth.”
But we—those who united with Jesus—”proclaim Christ on the Cross.”
This is not a doctrine. He’s not saying we need to know what the words propitiatory, salvific, atonement, and other such scholarly sounding verbiage mean. The point is almost the opposite. It’s not something to be figured out. It’s not something to overwhelm by force. It’s weakness, and nonsense.
But it’s Jesus.
this message is Christ, who is the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
In the end, what we are looking for, God’s power and wisdom (and everything else) is in Jesus. Jesus on the cross. The ultimate (meaning greatest) act of love, and the ultimate (meaning final) act of reconciliation of our relationship with our Father God.
“…by him [Jesus] we are put right with God, we are God’s holy people, and are set free.”
I truly believe that the good news (the “Gospel”) the message that Jesus lived and taught and asked his friends to share with everyone they know is this: Jesus. He is the Life, the Way, the Truth … you can’t miss that in pretty much every book of Scripture. Jesus is life.
I happened upon an old blog post today. It’s included in my book Life In The Rearview Mirror. It is titled Knowledge. It’s fun to look back a few years and see that God was just beginning to open my eyes a bit to the reality that I might not know everything. 🙂
And it continues today. Yet somehow, as he helps me realize that truth, the simpler truth that all of the stuff we try to know about him (men’s wisdom) is really not that important… life becomes clearer. Not that I have all the answers in life. But perhaps I know the most important one?
The message is Christ. By him we are put right with God, we are his holy people, and we are set free.