Wisdom and Foolishness {1 Corinthians 1}

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By Becky Bramlett Austin

Corinth was a busy Greek city that controlled the 2 major trade harbors between Rome and Asia. It was a place of many Greek and Roman cults. There was the famous temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, which trafficked prostitutes.  There was the cult of the Egyptian goddess "Isis" which valued worldly "wisdom" and the cult of Mithras which valued "mystery".  The church of Corinth was home to many Greeks and Gentiles who were surrounded by immoral lifestyles and pagan beliefs.  As young believers, Paul encouraged this important church but he also addressed its potential weaknesses.  

The first concern Paul had was about the reports of argument and division in the church of Corinth.  Many were focusing on trite things like what faction they followed, such as Paul's or Apollo's teachings.  Paul immediately tries to refocus them on one thing: their unity in Christ.  “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment." (V10) Division is one of Satan's favorite tools and that's why we have to seek common ground by focusing on Christ and letting Christ be Lord over all circumstances and relationships.

Paul reminds this church at Corinth to really understand the value of what they have.  They are surrounded by worldly minds seeking wisdom, power and enlightenment but these minds fail to recognize the true power, wisdom, and enlightenment given to those who believe in the resurrected Christ. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (v18) And then Paul asks: "Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (v20)

Don't you think the same holds true today? This is the Information Age, where so much knowledge is at our fingertips, and yet most do not comprehend the greatest knowledge we can gain is the knowledge of our deepest need and desire, our need for Christ. 

And then Paul concludes this chapter with statements that should humble us and honor us at the same time.  Humble us because we are reminded that we don't really have much to offer the all powerful God, and yet, honor us because God chose us and transforms us to bring Him glory. “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (v 26-29)

What an amazing God we serve, full of love and wisdom, gladly imparting it to us as we trust and depend on Him. 

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