“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.” ~1 Corinthians 1:27-29 (NRSV).
The message of the cross is foolishness to those perishing, according to the Apostle Paul, but it is power for salvation for those who trust in it (1 Corinthians 1:18).
The most common spiritual problem, for non-believers and believers alike, is pride. In no better way does Satan interrupt the otherwise free flow of God’s power. In no more direct a way is the gift of blessing swapped for the larceny of cursing. No easier are we deceived. Pride is the fulfilment of sin’s blight to steal, kill, and destroy the abundance of the Christian life (John 10:10).
The Corrective Is Foolishness
Any serious reflection over the cross will, in one foul swoop, arrest our dissension in pride by the miracle of truth. We are nothing without the grace that cost Jesus his life.
Very swiftly we are brought back into the centre of understanding replete of God.
The world’s ‘commonsense’ is the common interrupter of our spiritual sense, despite even the pride of our flesh, which is the primary source of our lack of humility. The world cannot understand the foolishness of the cross and, indeed, it is foolish from that viewpoint. Why would anyone, least of all Perfection incarnated, die for another person; so often an unthankful person, and all sinners?
I have so often thought of the Bible as the book crammed with paradox. God flips commonsense and makes the weak strong in their dependence on him; the humble are made powerful in their reliance on the truth. But grab humility and pride mysteriously rises to the surface. Only the intentionally weak, those that boast only in God, are blessed with humility.
God makes it possible that the least likely person to be blessed—from the world’s viewpoint—is blessed.
This makes no sense to those in the world ‘blessed’ by their perspective of power. They see much more evidence of blessing for greed, conquest, and domination; in a word, pride.
But the Lord turns that concept upside down without as much as a whiff of a warning.
One Sure Way to Humility
In his book, Humility: True Greatness, C.J. Mahaney suggests a daily approach to the cross as one sure way to humility.
As we survey the wondrous cross, as he eloquently puts it, paraphrasing Martin Lloyd-Jones, our lives, our situations, our sins, and our struggles are put into truthful context. There is no other perspective that quite captures a sufficient level of truth bringing us back from the oblivion of our pride.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.