In most circumstances in life, we like to avoid what is foolish. If we’re offered something for £20 and the same thing for £50, we’ll take the cheaper option. Saving money is good, wasting money is foolish. If we’re offered a promotion, we’ll usually take it. Having more responsibility and a bigger salary allows us to do more of what we want to do. If something is good to eat and it’s offered to us, and we’re hungry, and there’s no risk to anyone’s health, we’ll take and eat. To act in a different way would be foolish. At all costs, we want to avoid other people thinking we’re foolish.
But have you considered that God has chosen to appear foolish in the sight of many in the world? We might say that it is only human short-sightedness and self-centredness that makes God appear foolish to us. But God could have chosen all sorts of ways to impress us with His power and His wisdom. Instead, in Jesus, He chose to be misunderstood, misrepresented and His motives mistaken.
The Bible says that ‘God in His wisdom, saw to it that the world would never know Him through human wisdom’ (1 Corinthians 1:21).
Our culture celebrates personal achievement and self-reliance, celebrity and wealth. We like to save ourselves and others through our own efforts. We’re told at school and by Hollywood to believe in ourselves and to celebrate the human spirit. Yet Jesus chose a different way. Jesus chose to give His life in trusting obedience to His heavenly Father and to serve others. Jesus chose to hold no high position and avoided wealth. He endured hardship, hunger, thirst and bodily scourging. Yet the Bible says that in His life, death and resurrection we see the perfect wisdom of God. All this seems like foolishness.
Nor did Jesus choose the best or the brightest to follow and represent Him. He didn’t choose the strongest or the wealthiest of His day. Rather He chose a bunch of motley fishermen, an unpopular tax collector and women haunted by the difficulties of their past. Most of them died unrecognised and unheralded in their time, yet we remember their names – Peter, James, John, Andrew, Mary and the others – when the great men and women of their day are long forgotten.
This is the ‘foolishness of God’. The danger for Christians is that we can seek to impress others in all the wrong ways: in our own wisdom and power and rightness. By doing so, we find all sorts of ways of avoiding pointing to Jesus. To most people today, as in every age, trusting in Jesus seems like a foolish thing to do. Saying that you trust in God is acceptable: “God” can mean so many things to different people. But trusting in Jesus? That seems like foolishness.
So why did God choose this way? The Bible goes on to explain: ‘the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength’ (1 Corinthians 1:25). All this is from God, so that we might learn not to rely proudly on ourselves but rather depend on God alone. For it is only God who saves and it is only in God that we finally obtain all the good things for which we truly long.