Today's Lectionary Text
1 Corinthians 1:18-31
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human 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; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
There are certainly times in my experience of discipleship where I have experienced unexpected twists and turns and I will say this: in those times, I have nearly always found myself shocked by them and humbled by the way God is working through them.
Here’s an example. When I was working on my master’s degree, I was fortunate enough to go to Haiti on a medical immersion. On that trip, I experienced the best, the worst and the scariest humanity has to offer. Without great detail, it is often the best, the worst and the scariest that has the potential to deliver some of life’s most challenging lessons. In times when life presents you and I with challenging lessons, human egos can either destroy us or humility can transform you and I.
When I look at this reading from 1 Corinthians, I find the Apostle Paul saying something along those lines. Whenever I read Paul’s writings in 1 Corinthians, in particular, I measure it against what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:12, when he draws attention to how we see things in a mirror darkly, but one day will see matters that shape our lives with greater clarity. The reason is simple. God uses what is foolish to shame the wise and God uses what is weak to shame the strong.
Some of my greatest lessons in life have come from people I would have least suspected to be teachers, but in nearly every instance, I am profoundly grateful for the lessons I’ve been taught. What’s more is that I am deeply grateful for the lessons God was teaching me through those we might consider to be “the least and the lost.” God placed them in my path and your path just for that specific reason.
-Rev. Mark Crist
Plainview and Crawford UMC’s
*Devotion originally published 6/19/2019
Prayer for Reflection
Gracious God, you and you alone know what I need best. Often, the greatest teachers you place in my life are the ones I never would have considered my teachers. Help me to remember that your ways are different from my ways, and that means that when I least expect to receive the grace of something you need me to learn, that’s when I should be the most aware of something both great and small. Amen.
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