2014 Lent 6

I Corinthians 1:20-31

The crucified Christ is something of a paradox.

Christ, God incarnate in the man Jesus, was actually executed in a brutal, bloody, base manner.  Yet Christ as God is the creator of all the universe, the creator and sustainer of the very human instruments that tortured and executed him.  How can this be?

Paul seems to be addressing this question here in his words about proclaiming Christ crucified, “a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles.”  This apparent paradox, he says, is the wisdom of God.

But rather than point out that it’s not really a paradox after all, that we’re just looking at it incorrectly or whatever, he instead points out other paradoxes in God.  He talks of God’s foolishness–as if such a concept could even be possible!  Yet even if there were such a thing it would be wiser than the highest human wisdom.  Too, there’s God’s weakness.  Is such a thing even possible?  Well, if it is, even it is stronger than any and all human strength!

To take his point a step farther, God, Paul states, has chosen the weak in the world to shame the strong; and the foolish to shame the wise.

With what is to come later in this letter–and here I’m thinking especially of the social injustices happening around the communion table: the rich eat all the bread and get drunk on the wine, leaving the poor nothing with which to celebrate–.  With what is to come later, I cannot but think that Paul is taking a direct shot at the divisions within the Corinthian church.  In God’s economy–not the world’s; not Rome’s–the weak shall prevail over the strong and the foolish shall outwit the wise; there will be no slave or free, male or female, wealthy or poor; the first shall be last and the last shall be first.

In the new age ushered in by Christ, in other words, we should get used to paradox; for, like those guys in the book of Acts, we who proclaim Christ crucified are in fact turning the world upside down.


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