“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. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ 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? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:18-21)
I just came from seeing the movie, “I Can Only Imagine.” I have known and enjoyed the song for many years. I appreciated one particular aspect of the movie very much—Bart remembered and reflected on all the pain he experienced growing up. He was encouraged to use that pain in his music career. Only by looking back can we appreciate how far we and others have come, by God’s grace, from darkness, ignorance, and worldly wisdom. The pain of being lost, confused, hopeless, and ignorant should result in our greater relief, joy, appreciation, and gratefulness for Christ’s regeneration and our life with him. Paul looks back to Isaiah when God pronounced a curse on unfaithful Judah for seeking the world’s discernment rather than God’s. The Lord promised the nation that he would bring them down for their folly, which is what he did. The prophet Jeremiah also warned the people that “The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and taken; behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord, so what wisdom is in them?” (Jeremiah 8:9) God sent his people into exile and four hundred years passed.
A baby was born to a virgin, fathered by the Holy Spirit. He grew “in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52). He lived in perfect holiness, preaching repentance in the kingdom of God. He died a Savior’s death to atone for the sins of the elect, who share in his wisdom, his suffering, and his blessings. Paul now asks, “Where is that one, the wise scribe or debater” of the world? They have been made fools by the cross, the wisdom of God, which is nonsense to unbelievers, and the power of God to believers. In the film, church, the Bible, and Christian music were foolish to Bart’s father; he could not accept that there was anything worthwhile in pursuit of these while he was unsaved. He could not accept what his little boy understood, because of the power of the cross. As Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children” (Matthew 11:25).
Do you search for wisdom in the world? What do you expect to find there? Will you instead look to the atoning cross of Jesus as a little child, with your eyes wide open?