The church in Corinth was a very interesting congregation. In many ways, it was a thriving community empowered by the presence of God’s Spirit. There was much about the church to cause rejoicing: not least the basic fact that they were the church of God – those called by God to be his own holy people. Those who had come into a saving relationship with God through Jesus; who had already been declared holy by the blood of Jesus. This should be cause for celebration whenever we find a group of believers. For everyone everywhere who calls on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ is united into God’s people and made holy by Jesus.
Add to that the fact that God was blessing the Corinthian church by giving them all sorts of spiritual gifts. The Corinthian church had been enriched by God in every way. There were those who had the gift of speaking. There were those with the gift of knowledge – probably including the gift of prophecy.
More wonderfully, Paul reminds them that God will keep them strong to the end, so that they will be blameless when Jesus returns. They were as we are: partners with God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. God has promised to keep us strong and blameless to the end – and he can be trusted!
But there was another side to the Corinthian church. Despite all that God was doing, there was a distinctly discordant note of lovelessness. One of the evidences for this: there were divisions in the congregation. They were focussed on what divided them, rather than on what united them. They identified themselves according to certain theological camps – that of Paul, Apollos, Peter and Christ. Not realising, it seems, that Paul, Apollos, Peter and Christ all spoke the same gospel! Their divisions were of their own making – they weren’t even being true to those whose name they claimed to be defending!
But, as Paul reminds them, the message they believed in was one of foolishness. True, for those being saved it is the very power of God. But to the Jews who sought signs from heaven the good news of a crucified Lord seemed foolish. And to the Greeks who sought human wisdom that same gospel also seemed foolish. In actuality, though, God’s “foolishness” surpasses human wisdom, just as his “weakness” surpasses human strength.
Why does Paul remind them of this? Because he wants them to remember – in the midst of their boasting and arrogance and lovelessness – that they too are heirs of this “foolish” plan. In fact, few of the Corinthians were among the powerful or wealthy or wise when they were called. God chose them specifically to shame the wise and powerful. They were those “despised” by the world – as Christ was, and were in that despisedness meant to bring to nothing what the world considers important.
Instead, they were claiming to be wise – basing their actions on their wisdom rather than the wisdom of God.
The truth is, God had united them with Christ Jesus. He made Christ Jesus to be wisdom itself for our benefit. It was Christ that made us right with God, pure and holy, feed from sin. If we want to boast… let it not be in Christ. Let me not boast in my personal ideas. Let me not cause divisions in the church which are based on human wisdom and insight. Let me remember that without Christ, I would still be a foolish nothing. Let me remember that the wisdom of God is greater than my wisdom. Let me be humble; let me be like Christ. Let me boast in what the Lord has done.