In illustrating the “foolishness of God,” Paul uses the people in the Corinthian church as an example.
Now if you were going to save as many people as possible, wouldn’t you start with the rich, powerful, wise, and influential? Wouldn’t that make sense? But Paul says of the Corinthians,
Brothers, 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. 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. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. (26-29)
This is not to say God doesn’t save the rich, powerful, wise, and influential. Paul says here, “not many,” not, “not any.”
Still, God saves people not because of what they have or who they are, but because of his grace. And time and again, he puts to shame those who claimed to be strong and wise by those who were, by their standards, their inferiors. But these “inferiors” put the strong and wise to shame by one thing: their faith in God.
For instance, God took an old man named Noah who was willing to actually take God at his word and build a huge ark when no one needed a boat that big (if they needed one at all). Noah’s neighbors must have thought he was nuts. But in the end, he was proven wise when the rain started to fall and the flood waters started to rise.
Later, God took the Jewish people out of captivity in Egypt and had them surround a fortified city, just marching around it for 6 days. Then on the seventh day, they marched around it 7 times, blowing their horns. Then they shouted and charged the city. When Joshua’s soldiers heard this plan, they must have questioned Joshua’s sanity. For that matter, the inhabitants must have wondered what those crazy Jews were doing. But when the Israelites charged on that seventh day, the walls fell and they captured the city.
Years later, God took a bunch of young Jewish exiles in Babylon who refused to eat the food provided by the king because it was against their dietary laws, and instead just ate vegetables and drank water. Their fellow exiles must have thought they were out of their minds. In the end, these four men were not only healthier than their compatriots, but wiser and more capable as well.
Time and again, throughout history, you see God doing this kind of thing.
And he did it again through the cross. What people considered as a sign of weakness and defeat, an ignoble death on the cross, God used for our salvation. And he used it to save, not those whom the world admires, but those whom it despised.
People despise us because they consider us weak. Because to them, only the intellectually inferior and emotionally crippled need God. They despise us because we would put our trust in him instead of ourselves.
But ultimately, they will be put to shame.
A warning, however. Remember that you have nothing to boast about if you are a Christian. It’s not because of who you are or what you have done that God saved you. It’s because of who God is and what he has done. As Paul wrote,
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. (30)
So as Paul concludes,
Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (31)
Who are you boasting in? Yourself? You will be put to shame.
In God? Then there is no room for pride.
What is your attitude today?