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Foolish or Powerful Message

1 Corinthians 1:18-19
For the message of 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; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.' (NIVUK)

The message of the cross is straightforward: Jesus died as a substitute sacrifice to pay for the sins of the world and everybody who believes in Him is assured that they have forgiveness and eternal life.  It is a brilliantly gracious message  - the best news in the world.  It is at the heart of God's powerful gospel; all those who believe it and receive Christ are assured of salvation.

But not everybody thought that way in Corinth.  In the corrupt cosmopolitan city many said the message was foolish.  Surely, Jesus Christ could not be powerful if He allowed Himself to be killed.  Whoever would follow a disgraced leader?  He was not rich or prosperous in any way; He was born into poverty, lived simply and died as a criminal.  There is no earthly logic to persuade an intelligent person that it would be wise to follow Jesus, they said.  So they despised Him, and His people, as they rejected His gospel and went on their way to hell.

Their arguments intimidated and unsettled the believers.  They were swayed to despise Paul and doubt his preaching.  The immature believers were listening with worldly ears and thinking with human logic; wanting to be accepted by people who did not know Jesus.  But human logic is too small. God wanted to forgive us through the death of Jesus as His unique way of saving sinners.  So Paul quoted from Isaiah 29:13-16 to show that human logic was fatally flawed.  God is always bigger.

Today, disciples of Jesus are still ridiculed, persecuted and rejected.  Despite the example of Jesus, some Christians want to be powerful in the eyes of the world, trying to attract a popular vote.  That is not God's logic.  He uses weak people to show clever people that their mind-set is defective.  He shames the consciences of strong people who are worldly-wise.  God's work is not done by worldly means.  Beware the cult of popularity and the pressure to conform to a sick world.  Never try to remodel the gospel to make it acceptable.  Pray for your leaders to stay true to the gospel; pray for yourself to be strong in Christ when the world despises you for believing in the message of the cross.  God always has the last word.  So stay on-side with His gospel so that you can grow in faith and work effectively with Him.    

Powerful God. Thank You for the gospel, through which I believed in Jesus and know that I am saved. Forgive me when I allow worldly people to intimidate me, or when I have adjusted the gospel to be more acceptable to my friends. Please help my Christian leaders to stay true to the gospel and help me to stay strong through Your grace so that I will grow in faith and be acceptable to You. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams