There are a lot of people today who feel the same way that Charlie Anderson, the character played by Jimmy Stewart, did in this movie. They really don’t understand why they should give God the credit when everything they have, they feel that they earned. If they wanted anything, they went out and made it happen. This same type of person often believes the idea that we human beings created God, rather than believe that God created us. They feel that they have done it all, and they think it foolish when some of us Christians have decided to give God the credit for all that is good in our lives. As Paul stated in I Corinthians 1:18, they don’t understand the preaching of the cross, and they believe it is foolishness. As we will learn in this study of I Corinthians 1:18-31, we will see that perhaps it is the scoffers who actually are the foolish ones.
In verse twenty of the passage Paul questions why the philosophers and religious leaders were not able to wrap their minds around this good news.
If you have ever taken a philosophy class, one of the first things that you learn is that it is easy to disprove something, but impossible to prove it. One small misstep and you’ve lost the debate through one of the many fallacies that can occur. Philosophy as we know it was originated by the Greeks and in Paul’s day, the Greeks were the philosophy experts. The philosophers had followers like rock stars of today have groupies. Every ideology came under scrutiny, and the new religion Christianity was a new one for them to examine. The problem was, the crucifixion did not make sense to their understanding so therefore they rejected it. It just wasn’t logical.The logic of philosophy comes short of realizing that God knows all truth.
The Jewish religious groups, despite their piety, did not get it either.
The first century Jewish society contained many sects and schools. There were, of course, the Essenes who separated themselves because they thought they were the only ones who knew the truth. Another group, the Pharisees are more a more familiar group to us because Jesus opposed them. The Pharisees were a scholarly group of Jews who, as Josephus the historian said, had a reputation for claiming expertise understanding the Torah (First Five Books of the Old Testament) and the observance of the laws. The Sadducees, on the other hand, did not believe in the authoritative nature of these ancestral laws.They however, had a following among the well-to-do. They denied the resurrection of the dead, a belief the Pharisees espoused. These groups were at odds among one another about who was right and who was wrong, neither espousing to the possibility that they were both wrong.
I Corinthians 1:21 says that it pleased God to confuse the wise men of that day by preaching of a crucified Christ. The Jews would not have him because they expected the Messiah to come as a mighty conqueror. When he came to be crucified they stumbled at Him. The Gentiles could see no reason for salvation by a crucified malefactor of Judea. To those of both classes who would believe, Christ was the power and the wisdom of God.
Have you ever noticed that God always chooses to do things differently than humans do? Perhaps we need to change that to say that we choose to think differently than God thinks). God chooses to make:
- Foolish things to confound the wise.
- Weak things to confound mighty
- Base things to humble the exalted
- Despised things to humble the noble
- Powerless things to bring to defeat the things that are powerful
God did not choose the things that make men feel important because that is not what he wants for mankind. He wants no flesh to glory in his presence. He wants Jesus Christ to be our Glory, our wisdom, our righteousness, our sanctification and our redeemer. He wants us to reach the point where when we can only glory in what Jesus Christ has done for us. He wants us to become smart enough to know we need his help.