Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Wisdom of Folly

Vincent van Gogh, Still Life with the Bible
The world didn't know God through wisdom. It pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. The Jews demand a sign, and the Greeks demand wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles. But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." (1 Corinthians 1:21b-25)

God who sacrifices His Son for sinners. Son of God who sacrifices Himself for people who hate Him. Salvation handed to us, free and clear, all debts paid in full. Clearly, this made no more sense in St. Paul's time than it does today. Christ crucified is a stumbling block.

It's easy to see God in the beauty of the vast night sky, in the power of a thunderstorm, or in the perfection of a brand new, perfect baby. If we've seen the majesty of the Grand Canyon, we think we've seen God because that is what we think God is like: a beautiful sunset, Niagara Falls, and my own personal favorite: the Bad Lands of South Dakota.

But what's godly about a man hanging dead on a cross?

What's godly about fettered intestines and twisted backs? What's godly about hair loss due to chemo therapy? About muscles that ache for no apparent reason? Extra weight packed on through the necessary evil of medication? What about that new baby with the cleft lip? Or that grandma who can't pick up her grandbaby? We are the worthless ones, the world tells us, the weakest ones, the ugly ones. That's what we tell ourselves. That makes sense.

Well, I don't know about you, but five years of chronic pain later, I'm through trying to make sense. I have little patience for tasks that are impossible. I'm embracing folly for the truth that's in it.

The same thing that's godly about that man hanging dead on a cross is what is godly about all of us: REDEMPTION. There is nothing in this world that is more Christ-like than undeserved suffering. We are the strongest ones. You and I and that beautiful baby with the cleft lip are the realization of the promise that all things will be made right because of that one perfect, willing sacrifice that makes no sense.

God created the purple mountain's majesty above the fruited plain and the amber waves of grain and whatnot, and each little life that seems to come from nothing, that’s true. But consider all the works Thy hand hath made, my friends, and none can even begin to compare in majesty and power to this: Christ crucified for you. That's typical Jesus—forever redefining what we think we know.

Suggested verse to repeat to yourself if it's a difficult day is derived from Isaiah 60.
PRC buddies, remember to breathe!
Lift up your eyes and see, ----------> 5 counts inhale
He made you beautiful and free.” ----------> 5 counts exhale

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