My American History professor was a kind, serious and humble man. His mannerisms suggested he knew just enough. One day a clever classmate mistook his humility for ignorance. She began lecturing him, and it seemed she knew more than he did. He listened patiently and respectfully. When she was finished, he gently and quickly delivered the first intellectual knock out blow I had ever seen. Through a brief and gentle show of his intellectual capacity, my classmate was humbled into silence and a new found humility and respect. What we all realised is that he taught in this humble way, because he was speaking to chickens, not because he was one. His wisdom was far greater than ours. In our prior arrogance, we didn’t understand his humble teaching approach and couldn’t see his wisdom.
The Christian message, the Gospel, says that God’s approach to salvation is similar. In His wisdom, God saves man through the foolishness of death on a cross. To those who want powerful signs to prove God is God, the cross of Jesus seems powerless; he died! To those who want to reason their way to God, the cross is madness; he got himself killed! Gordon Fee writes: “The ultimate idolatry is that of insisting that God conform to our own prior views as to how ‘the God who makes sense’ ought to do things!” So those who want to be convinced by power or intellectual reasoning don’t get it. However, because the cross is Gods ‘weakness’ and ‘madness’ we find that it is still wiser than mans wisdom and stronger than mans strength.
By the evidence of who is in the church, not many intellectual, influential, or wealthy by human standards, receive the message of the cross. The church is famously and historically largely made up of simple, unknown, poor people. If you could pick a team to win an event, you would surely pick the best you could. God does the opposite; he picks a team of nobodies with nothing to bring. There’s very good reasons for this. If I am saved because I’m smart enough to understand, or beautiful enough for God to love, or rich enough to be useful to God, then I am saved because of something I bring! God is in lack, and I make up for what He is lacking by bringing something He needs. But, if God saves nobodies who bring nothing, and still gets the victory over sin and death, then He gets all the glory. So the reason that not many intellectual, influential, and wealthy people are saved is because not many will humble themselves to accept Jesus’ cross. The reason why simple, unimportant, poor people find it so easy to accept God is because they readily humble themselves and accept the message of the cross, and become reliant on Jesus. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord Jesus (vs. 31).”
So, God saves people through faith in Jesus, a way that demands humility – accepting that I bring nothing to God, and confidence – knowing that He has done it all. When God flexes His wisdom… human beings are saved and He alone is glorified. While the Christian message seems weak and foolish, it proves to be immeasurably wise and powerful.
- You may find the following section of the Bible helpful for further understanding: 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16