June 14, 2008

The Cross as Foolishness (to the World)

1 Corinthians 1:17-31

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing …
1 Corinthians 1:18


After a week of reflections on the cross, there is still a lot about this image that doesn’t seem to make sense. How can a single state-sponsored execution almost 2,000 years ago be the source of redemption for the whole universe? As 1 Corinthians 1 suggests, that seems to be a rather foolish thing to try to explain to others.

Wouldn’t a solution that reveals more power be more impressive?

That way of approaching things tends to make our cultural values the ultimate norm by which we judge God. But we are called to do the opposite.

The cross is one of best places to begin our cultural-resisting efforts. As Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 1, the God of the Bible is the kind of God who chooses the lowly, the weak, the seemingly foolish to accomplish mighty things. The cross, which can seem foolish, is actually the richest expression of God’s wisdom.

This “upside-down” way of doing things can seem really strange and even foolish. But the “upside-down” kingdom of God is actually right-side up.

So get to know your neighbors and share with them what can seem like the foolishness of the cross. You are speaking God’s wisdom. Invite them to join you in reorienting your world around the clearest statement of God’s saving love for all of us.

Lord, help us to be suspicious—in a holy way. Help us to be suspicious of anything the world deems important so that we can compare it to the power of the cross. Amen.

About the author — John D. Witvliet

Dr. John D. Witvliet has served as a professor at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary for the past 11 years, as well as serving as Director of the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. He and his wife, Charlotte, have four children.

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