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Fools for Jesus

. 3 min read

No video or audio this past week. Sorry about that.

28-29
Jan 2017, Christ Mountain Top
Psalm
15 (call to worship, only at Open Table)
Matthew
4.12-23 (kids)
1
Corinthians 1.18-31 (message)
Theme
word for the text: Foolish
I
tried to think of examples of foolish behavior or foolish thinking in my own
life. But, you know how serious and wise and calm I am. I came up with nothing.
So, I asked Robin.
Before
we get into that particular theme, I do want to locate the text in Paul’s
debate with the church in Corinth. Again, he approaches the matter indirectly.
But, he is clearly addressing an aspect of their concerns about him. He hasn’t
been forceful enough in his presentation. He has been too weak. He hasn’t been
eloquent enough in his preaching. He has been too foolish. They are interested
in preaching with power, in words with wisdom. And, as far as their
expectations are concerned, Paul has underperformed.
      If you read the Paul stories in Acts, you
will see that there are miracles, some really incredible ones, though not in
Corinth and not in every place. And, you will see that Paul first comes to
Corinth after serving in Athens, a place where Paul appeals to the philosophers
of the city and finds very little response. One of the theories about Paul’s
ministry in Corinth is that he deliberately avoided the appeal to philosophy, a
Greek word which refers to those who “love wisdom”. In Athens, the philosophers
were interested until Paul got to Jesus. In Corinth, Paul skips the prelude and
goes directly to the subject: Jesus, and the cross.
      Of course, a thriving church is started in
Corinth, whereas there are only a handful of converts in Athens. But now the
folks in that thriving church are wanting more than Jesus and the cross. They
want wisdom and power. And, since Paul does not offer it, they are beginning to
look elsewhere.

1
Corinthians 1:22-25
 For Jews demand signs
and Greeks desire wisdom,  23
but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to
Gentiles,  24 but to those who
are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of
God.  25 For God’s foolishness
is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
Paul’s
preaching was a preaching of God’s foolishness and weakness. For that matter,
the Corinthian Christians were, by and large, from the underclass. 1
Corinthians 1:26-29
 not many of you
were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble
birth.  27 But God chose what
is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world
to shame the strong;  28 God
chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to
nothing things that are,  29
so that no one might boast in the presence of God.
      They were from the underclass, but they
aspired to greatness. Paul, instead, keeps pointing them to the cross – which
is among the most humiliating means of execution ever devised. He reminds them
that we follow Jesus, whose path to our redemption was one that by any human
standard required the embrace of weakness and folly. For us to follow Jesus
requires an embrace of the cross, with all its weakness and folly.
Eugene
Peterson, two ways we are religious,
      wisdom and power, answers and miracles
      we only offer Jesus!
Gordon
Fee, two idolatries, wisdom and power
Idolatry
in the Scriptures – not just wrong, abominable, but stupid
      Sarcasm of the prophet: wood for fire and for
an idol (Isaiah 44)
      Idols as projections of ourselves
            (Hebrew Scriptures were way ahead of
philosophers!)
Idolatry
today
      Money, we earn it, we feel secure, we
worship it
      Children, we love them, they make us feel
good, worship them
That’s
why we’re in therapy … our parents worshiped us, but we found out we were not really
gods … and when we worshiped our children, they didn’t treat us as something
special
Back
to this question of foolishness in my life … a couple stories that tell the
story of my foolishness, a purely human foolishness:
·       Power:
Wrestling Grant at Soccer Camp
·       Wisdom:
Popcorn on my tonsils (the original post-truth assertion)
Purely
human foolishness, and perhaps an idolatry as well.
Mountain Rain
– story of James O. Fraser

      “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus”