Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Not Many Wise

 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, [2] not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 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; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being [3] might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:25-31 (ESV)
“God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.”
This is somewhat a funny passage. Every time I read it I think about the modern courses based on Dale Carnegie, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” I’m not sure that this would really fit in that model. Of course, Paul does use the past tense to indicate that what was true of them is no longer. Even so, by worldly standards, few in the congregation would be considered wise, or powerful, or noble. But God chose them and he rejected those the world esteemed. God doesn’t settle for the dregs of society, he chooses who he wants, and he rejects those that the world respects. Whatever the world thinks of us Christians we can know that God does not share the world’s opinion and in the end, it will be those the world considered wise, strong, powerful and influential who are shamed.

I think it needs to be said that not many means that some actually were wise, rich, powerful and influential. A look at the names mentioned in the letters of Paul and a cursory reading of Acts will give you an indication of who these people were. It should be noted that wise, rich and powerful often go together in the world, and to be so according to worldly standards does not disqualify a person from being a Christian. Often these people used their influence to protect and shield the church. It is also apparent that much of the churches work would not have happened without the backing of rather rich members.  But the poorer members were never willing to let the rich shoulder the burden of supporting the church. Everyone gave what they could with a cheerful heart. I think that is mostly true today.  

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