STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS
Gracious One, let your truth go before me, let your wisdom walk beside me, let your compassion live within me.
Read 1 Corinthians 1:26 – 2:5
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”[a]
2 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.[b] 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘How deep the wisdom of our God, / how weak, but truly wise, / to risk, to sacrifice, to die, / and from the grave to rise.’1
We who are ‘in Christ Jesus’ (v 30) have been taken beyond the boundaries of human reason to glimpse the wisdom of God, pervading the physical and spiritual universe. In this eternal wisdom, infinitely greater than human wisdom, we find all that we ever need to know, all that we can ever be. Through Jesus, embodying the wisdom of God, we become right with God. We are made holy. We are redeemed.
Paul reinforced this incredible assertion by comparing the Corinthian Christians’ new status before God with the status they once held. Many church members were not from rich or powerful backgrounds. Like those with whom Jesus associated, the lepers, the tax-collectors, and the prostitutes, they were not people whom the world admired. They were despised people without status or privilege. Yet God called them, they answered, and they had become God’s chosen people.
Paul was anxious to point out that in Corinth he did not resort to attractive oratory. He came to them in weakness and fear (2:3). He used no attention-grabbing techniques, no clever presentations. He said he was by nature a stumbling and not very gifted speaker. Later writers, not in the canon of Scripture, describe Paul as physically unattractive.2 The message was infinitely more important than the man. That single message was ‘Jesus Christ and him crucified’ (v 2). All of us who would share our faith can take comfort in this. The power of our witness, if it is to have any power whatsoever, is finally God’s power dwelling within us. God chooses to be revealed through all kinds of cracked and damaged vessels.3 If God’s wisdom fills our minds, if our hearts are full of his praises, if God dwells within us, then that is what people will see.
‘Fill thou my life, / O Lord my God, / in every part with praise, / that my whole being may proclaim, / thy being and thy ways.’4
Lord, I don’t want a designer Jesus who meets my preferences and interests. I want to know the real, living Christ healing and leading me.
1 Brian Wren, b 1936, ‘When pain and terror strike’ 2 E.g. Acta Pauli et Theclæ, 3 3 2 Cor 4:7 4 Horatius Bonar, 1808–89
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