Want to Be Wise? Be a Fool.

I like learning.

There, I said it. I’m sure that makes me a nerd or something, but I don’t care. I honestly enjoy reading books, watching lectures, listening to NPR… you name it.

With this interest comes some spiritual baggage: I feel like I must prove Christianity to my non-Christian friends. That I must somehow make it reasonable. And, to be sure, there are plenty of brilliant scholars who excel at defending the Christian faith — William Lane Craig, Tim Keller, Alvin Plantinga, etc.

But Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians 3:18-23 were a welcome reminder that in many ways, Christianity will always seem foolish.

But don’t take it from me:

Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
(1 Corinthians 3:18-23, ESV)

So do you want to be wise? Then be a fool. And this makes sense — because everything about the Christian message seems foolish to the world. Paul had explained this truth earlier in 1 Corinthians.

  • “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,” he said (1 Corinthians 1:18, emphasis added).
  • The message of Christ crucified was a “stumbling block” to the Jews — because it was blasphemous to say that God could be crucified (1 Corinthians 1:23a).
  • And the message of Christ crucified was “folly” to non-Jews — because why would you worship a crucified God (1 Corinthians 1:23b)?

Need more proof? Just take an objective look at God’s master plan for saving the world:

  • God sends all-powerful Jesus to become a human — with all our weaknesses and limitations.
  • Jesus is born in a stable to an unwed teenager.
  • Jesus leaves His global mission in the hands of twelve uncredentialed men — one who betrayed him for money, and others who abandoned or denied Him at His time of greatest need.
  • Jesus is brutally executed in the most demeaning way in front of hundreds of gawkers.
  • Jesus is miraculously resurrected from dead only to be seen first by women, who were considered unreliable witnesses in the first century.

Needless to say, we would not script it this way.

But this “foolish” message is God’s great wisdom. It calls the great to humility, and the humble to greatness. It gives us no reason to “boast in men” — who are called to be servants (1 Corinthians 3:20). And it offers hope, giving new meaning and purpose to our leaders, the world, life, death, the present and the future (1 Corinthians 3:22).

So in some ways, I cannot make Christianity seem reasonable. It is the most unreasonable — yet most wonderful — message in the world. It says that we were wretched, judgment-deserving sinners — and the Father sent Jesus so that we could become righteous, heaven-bound children.

One thought on “Want to Be Wise? Be a Fool.

  1. Pingback: Chris Pratt, Shia LaBeouf, and the Troubling Infatuation with Christian Celebrities | Nathaniel D. Williams

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