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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, February 2, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 Corinthians 1:18–31          

For the message about the cross is 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 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, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human 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, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (NRSV)

To the Jewish followers of the Jewish Jesus, it was scandalous and shocking that Jesus was crucified. It was a stumbling block to their belief and understanding. Surely the anointed one, the Messiah, would be powerful, like a king. How could their new king, come to save them, be killed by the empire?

And the Greeks, who were enamored with philosophy and wisdom, found the idea foolish that imperial powers could kill the Christ, the anointed one. The anointed one should have the unconquerable power of God. He should be perfect and unchangeable and certainly not able to die.

But God, by entering our human existence in the body of Christ, did not teach that “might makes right.” On the contrary, God showed that love is stronger than hate, that domination will fall apart in the end, that new life comes even after evil seems to flourish. Even after death by the torture of crucifixion, God rose again in Christ, Love walked the earth again, communion and community healed the people of their grief, and Jesus was recognized in the breaking of bread at table.

What may seem foolish and impossibly naïve may just win the day in the end. Love wins.

God of steadfast love, help me to resist the appeal of “winning” by being “right,” and give me the wisdom to trust the power of relationship and kindness and true justice. Help me to persevere in compassion. Amen.

Written by Nanette Sawyer, Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Small Group Ministry

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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