If I’m to be honest, many times it bothers me that so much of the world thinks that what I believe is absurd. The depravity and sinful nature of humanity, the holiness and justice of God, the substitutionary death and justifying resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the command for us to repent from sin and follow Jesus Christ are the truths that have changed the course of my life….. and they are also truths that most people find to be lunacy—or more precisely, foolishness. This bothers me. And honestly, at times it has made me doubt what I believe. I know it’s not very “strong” of me to say that, but it’s true. And I think it’s true for many other Christians.
- “You’re trying to tell me that at my very core, I’m messed up? So messed up I can’t fix myself? Yeah.. ok.”
- “You say that God has allowed me to be so sinful? Yeah right. God doesn’t make mistakes.”
- “So God has to kill His Son to forgive me? That doesn’t sound very loving.”
- “Jesus wants me to stop dating people of the same sex? I just think Jesus was more about love….. so if I’m just trying to love, I’m not hurting anybody. So it can’t be sin.”
I don’t know about all of you, but I hear statements like this a whole lot more than I ever hear about someone responding to the [true and entire] gospel in faith and repentance. In my mind, the gospel makes so much sense…. it makes sense of the realities around me and the realities inside of me. Apart from the Bible, the world would make no sense to me. The presence of good and evil, right and wrong, life and death—the Bible is the only thing that logically explains all those things. And the main character of the Bible, Jesus Christ, is the only thing that offers any hope in escaping the permanence of the most dire of this world’s problems—death. Salvation from eternal damnation and receiving the gift of eternal life, all through the shed blood of Christ, is worth more to me than any of the things I have to turn away from in this temporary life.
But to most people….. it’s foolishness. The mindset of the world is that people are mostly good and undeserving of eternal damnation… and that God is some kind of indifferent “power” that doesn’t get angry and only demonstrates love and acceptance. Most times, they reject our gospel with a dismissive giggle—at least in their minds. In my reading today, I was reminded that even this kind of response is part of God’s plan.
“For the word of the Cross is folly [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, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’
Where is the one who was 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 [foolishness] of what we preach to save those who believe.”- 1 Corinthians 1:18-21
It pleased God through the foolishness of the preaching of the Cross to save those who believe. Wow. This encourages me so much!! Not because of the fact that people think the gospel is foolishness…..I wish that they would see it as the wisdom of God and trust in it. But I’m encouraged because even the world’s response of thinking “the gospel is foolishness” is a testament to the authenticity and reliability of God’s Word.
And how much of a blessing is it that we, followers of Jesus, do not see this glorious gospel as foolishness! Like I said earlier… the gospel makes sense to me. And if you’re a fellow believer, it makes sense to you. But friends, we can’t even take credit for this. If it were not for the Spirit of God, we would spit at the proclamation of the good news that we presently hold fast to.
“But, as it is written,
‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.’—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.”- 1 Corinthians 2:9-12
It is God who gives us the ability to understand, believe and trust in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is by grace, purely grace, that we are on this side of the fence, so to speak. The reality of this urges me to not get angry with unbelievers and use “the gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing” as a let-me-beat-you-down verse, but rather to remind myself that I would be responding to the gospel in the same exact way if it were not for the grace that God chose to show toward to me.
Let us pray for those who consider the Cross of Christ as foolishness, that God would grant them repentance (in mind and action)……but let us also be reminded that God planned for this “message” to be foolishness—we can trust in the unbreakable solidness of His Word. And what’s even more encouraging to me is that I don’t have to manipulate the message of the Cross to make it more acceptable— whether the response from others is faith, or whether it is a smirk, God is in control. And He is glorified either way. He will be glorified in demonstrating His mercy on those who receive His gospel…. or He will be glorified in demonstrating His wisdom against the backdrop of the true foolishness of those who reject His gospel.