“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 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” (1 Cor. 1: 26-27)
Christianity is not a religion of self-esteem. The Bible is not a place to find uplifting statements that will make you feel good about yourself. In fact, it is often the place where we are confronted by the depths of our own inadequacies. As I read this passage this morning, I started to wonder, “Is this really me?” Am I weak? Am I foolish? Paul’s answer is yes. God chooses the weak and the foolish to shame wise. If God chose me than I am weak and a fool.
Our weakness and our foolishness is not just a statement about ourselves. It is a declaration of the thing we put our hope in, the cross of Jesus Christ. This is what Paul calls a “stumbling block” to the Jews and Gentiles. Whether we are religious or irreligious, the cross shatters our expectations. It isn’t the display of power longed for by the religious and it isn’t the wisdom so valued by the world.
But, for us, the cross is wisdom and power and so much more. “But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Cor. 1:24-26) It is only when we embrace our weakness that we may begin to see the God who triumphed in weakness on a cross. It is only when we embrace our foolishness that we begin to see Christ who “foolishly” gave his life on a cross in order to complete God’s wise plan of salvation. Being called weak and foolish may for a moment hurt my self-esteem. It may make me feel small. But, then I remember, it isn’t about me. It’s about the God who endures the cross to bring weak fools to himself.