Trust in God’s Strength
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Where Is the Wisdom?
Where is it? Many years ago, there was a young woman who visited her grandpa. She grew up here in the U.S. But her grandpa was in Russia. So the family got on a plane and went to the family farm in Russia. And what she saw shocked her. The fields of the farm were a junkyard, strewn with rusted pieces of many old tractors. And inside the barn it was even messier. One day her grandpa told her to get a tool for him because he was working on the tractor. The tool was hidden under a box. And then she began to figure out what was going on. If her grandpa cleans up his fields and his barn, then his neighbors will come in and steal what they can take and break what they cannot take. And when the farmer reports this to the police they won’t do anything about it, since, in Russia, under Communism, your possessions don’t belong to you. In God’s word this morning we see that God does the same thing with his his treasured possessions. God hides his wisdom and power. For, just like on that farm, there are those who hate him and want to take his power and break what they cannot take. Where is it then? Where is God’s wisdom? It’s not under a box in a barn. So then where is it? God’s word begins to answer the question this way: “25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. 26 Brothers and sisters, 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. 27 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.” (1 Corinthians 1:25–27 NIV11-GKE)
God works wonders through weakness. We are weak—every one of us is weak. And notice how Paul explains this. He keeps saying the words, “now many.” These words are devastating. It’s like going to the dentist, thinking that your teeth are in good shape, only to find out that you need dentures. The people in Corinth were not powerful and capable. And my dear friends in Christ, neither are we.
But notice where Paul goes from there. God uses the weak things of this world to expose the world’s stupidity. And it’s important for us to speak about this on this morning. Paul wants to realize that the power and wisdom of the world is first of all, fake. Let’s use as an example, the Superbowl. Now, before I begin, I want to let you know that there is nothing wrong with football in and of itself. It’s the layers of fakeness put on top of the game that is the problem. Look at the players on the field. They are faster and stronger than you are. But they are just guys. But millions of dollars each year are spent trying to get you to believe that they are more than guys. I watched a Superbowl about 10 years ago and discovered that there’s a new camera angle. It’s the one where the angle is right behind the guy with the ball. It looks amazing. It makes it look like this guy running on the field is a god among men. But you take away the glitz and glam and he’s just a guy.
You can say the same about the singer at halftime. When I was a kid in the 80’s, you could count on the rockstar to have been the guy who writes and then sings the words. If you want see a funny video, watch the music videos of Journey and Survivor from the 80’s. You have these scrawny guys singing about how strong they are. They weren’t fooling anyone. Now, at halftime, you can count on that lady on the stage to look good. For the chances are, she didn’t write the music or arrange it. Someone else did her make up and her costumes. And there might even be an ‘autotuner’ running in the background to help her out when she gets a little off key.
The wisdom and power of this world is fake. But in the rare instances that it is real, it so very quickly fades. There is not such thing as a reunion Superbowl. For no one wants to see a bunch of 60-year old men with bruised brains and battered bodies, who can barely get up off the couch, cross the scrimmage line.
The power and wisdom of the world is fake and fading. But look at God’s wisdom: “28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 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” (1 Corinthians 1:28–30 NIV11-GKE)
Why is it that the world wants you so much to look at the pretty uniforms of the players on the field and the costume of the lady on the stage? The power and wisdom of the world is no help to you on the day that you die and meet your maker. But God’s wisdom can help and can save. God’s wisdom is Jesus. Jesus is our righteousness and our redemption, both our perfection and payment. God’s wisdom actually pays for sin.
But, my friends in Christ, there’s more. God’s wisdom actually stays forever. The wisdom of the world tells us that we can never be weak. For people will make fun of us and take advantage of us. The wisdom from God says, “be weak, for I am strong in your place.” The wisdom of the world says, “Shine the spotlight on your strength so that you can take as much as you can. Because when it’s gone, you’ll never get it back.” Wisdom from God says, “worship the Lord by using your strength, not to take, but instead to give.” And my dear friends in Christ, if that serving means that you might have to grind down your gifts and spend away your strengths, if it is in line with God’s will and word, then that’s OK. For, when he comes again, he will either give it back to you, or he will give you something even better.
So where is the wisdom? God hides his wisdom in weakness. And then he works wonders through weakness. In the weakness of a frail baby placed in a manger he works wonders. In the weakness of bread and wine placed on the altar Jesus works wonders as he promises forgiveness to us through his body and blood connected to that bread and wine. And where that leaves us then is in a very beautiful place. Paul concludes this way: “Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”” (1 Corinthians 1:31 NIV11-GKE)
When we see that the wisdom of the world is fake and fades, and when we see that God’s wisdom pays for sin and stays forever, then we can worship him in wonder. We worship in wonder, first of all, by stepping back in awe and amazement and simply say, “amen.” But we also worship with wonder by giving God the glory that is due him. For there will be times in your lives where you have strengths, gifts, and abilities that others do not. And know that the wisdom of God has paid for the times, that when the spotlight was on you, you forgot to give God his glory. For he is the one who gave you those gifts. And in that forgiveness, there is the opportunity to boast in the Lord. So what will that look like in your lives? Let me give you an example in my life. I can sing. There are others who can sing better than I can. But, I can sing. Whenever I sing, I try to keep two thoughts in mind. First, how can I boast in the Lord? So, if I sing for a wedding or a funeral and people compliment me, it’s hard to find what to say. The best I’ve been able to say is that I’m thankful that not all of the money my parents spent on voice lessons was in vain. I do this deliberately so that they would maybe talk to me more later on. Then I could tell them how that gift and every gift was from God and from God alone.
The second thought I strive to keep in my heart is that God has the right to take this gift away. I have known many elderly women whose voices were weak and unstable. And they told me that they used to have strong and beautiful voices. But they also rejoiced that there would be a day, when on Judgment Day, they would get their voices back. God’s wisdom pays. But, how amazing it is that God’s wisdom stays too.
So, where will you find wisdom? Don’t look to the world. For its wisdom and power is fake and fades. Cling to Jesus. Cling to the wisdom of God. That wisdom pays and stays. God works wonders through weakness that we would worship him in wonder. Amen