This summer of 2020 has brought out craziness that Paul would recognize immediately:
“For the word of the cross is folly 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, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart’” (1 Cor 1:18-19; Isaiah 29:14).
If the word of the cross is folly to rioters and rulers, count me in. This summer we can ask in concert with Paul:
“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, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 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 1:20-25).
What is God calling us to do in these troubled times? Might I suggest that nothing has changed, that Jesus still prays for us to be brought to perfect unity so that the world will know that God sent Jesus for the good of all?
“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; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor 1:26-29).
God has chosen the foolish, the weak, the low, and the despised. We are so low that we do not exist in the eyes of those pretending to power. But we are chosen to bring to nothing the powerful. Why, to become powerful ourselves? No!
So that no human being can boast in the presence of God.
And here is an underlying behavior of perfect unity presented by Paul:
“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord’” (1 Cor 1:30-31).
Paul is referring to Jeremiah 9, which reads like air conditioning on a scorching one hundred degree summer day:
“Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might. Let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord’” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
This is the top rung on the spiral staircase to perfect unity with God. It reads almost like the good fork in the road to perfect unity: repentance, never-ending love of God, restoration and forgiveness.
And this behavior of perfect unity is a surprise – go ahead and boast – that you understand and know the one God, who practices never-ending love, justice and righteousness, right here, right now!