“The foolishness of God is wiser than men”
from 1 Corinthians 1:25 NKJV
It may seem a bit odd, but this is my favourite verse in the Bible. There’s something incredibly honest about talking about the foolishness of God. There are times when I look at the way God’s plan has worked out in my life, and deep down I’m thinking, “God, you are an idiot.” Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think God is ever even slightly foolish, but there are times when it feels that way. There are times when I think that I know better…if God had done things my way, it would have been so much better.
I imagine someone explaining to me that it’s not that God is foolish, it’s more like His wisdom is so much higher than our own. When we fail to see the wisdom in God’s ways, they are still wise, and if we could see the whole picture, we would be blown away…and very quickly repent for even thinking of it as foolishness. This point of view would turn the verse around to say, “The wisdom of man is foolisher than God.” This is true, but there is more.
Let’s dig into 1 Corinthians 1 a little more. (I really like the way the New Living Translation words this, so I’ve included it below)
18 The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. 19 As the Scriptures say,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise
and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”
20 So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. 21 Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. 22 It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. 23 So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.
24 But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.
26 Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.
God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish, but not everyone gets it. This passage is saying that the plan of salvation doesn’t make sense from the world’s point of view. It is foolishness. This amazing plan, that is probably the most awesome thing God has ever done, is stupid according to the wisdom of the world.
In Romans, Paul speaks about the old man and the new man. Our sinful nature is still with us, although it is slowly being replaced with a sanctified nature. Verse 18 says, “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” So, man in his natural, sinful state doesn’t understand God’s ways. They are foolish. It is only once we have been renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can begin to grasp God’s ways as wise. None of us are fully perfect yet. We still have a sinful part of us that is headed for destruction, so to speak. That part of us still struggles with God’s wisdom.
What I like about this verse is that it understands the tendency for a finite, sinful man to struggle with the wisdom of God’s ways. This verse acknowledges that from man’s point of view, God’s ways are foolish…that I’m not crazy for thinking it sometimes. It goes further though. It reminds me that even when God’s ways look stupid, they are so much better than anything I could have come up with. And that’s comforting.