Isaiah 12: 1-6
1 Corinthians 1: 18-31
Luke 15: 1-3, 11-32
Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.
Several years ago I had a shirt that a quote from Oscar Wilde on it, a famous author, and the quote read as such, “I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying.”
In our second reading, from 1st Corinthians, Paul is writing particularly to the church located in Corinth about their problem with knowledge. They had many issues, but the primary, the core, issue that Paul found fault in was their haughty sense of intelligence. For in the end the root cause of all the issues that the Church of Corinth had was their need for more knowledge which they foolishly paraded over others who were less knowledgeable.
This is why Paul shuts down the whole speaking in tongues argument as nonsensical gargle utterances for the Corinthians simply spoke in tongues to lift themselves as higher and more spiritually gifted then their brothers and sisters who may not speak in tongues.
This is why Paul speaks out against those who try to decipher things of the divine through the study of earthly things. This would be like using science to understand God, or how the world began, or how it will end, or the afterlife.
This is why Paul destroys the concept that men can replace divine instructions with more palpable worldly instructions with regards to say marriage, or relationships, the law, etc.
Corinth had turned knowledge into an Idol as they gluttonously devoured as much information they could get their grubby hands on, most of which was fake information with questionable origins. Their lack of faith became obvious as they became so dissatisfied with not knowing the answers, for there are somethings God does not intentionally tell us sinful creatures, that they looked in obscure places to fill in the intellectual voids of their theology. They would rather have incorrect information than no information. The statement, “I don’t know,” was a horrifying utterance that they stripped away the mystery of God by replacing him with a more tangible and understandable God. In the end, their search for knowledge lead them down a dangerous road where more nonsense stacked upon nonsense, and lies upon lies, that they reversed their standing with God as his creation for a lie that is God becoming a creation of their own.
Foolishness was not acceptable. Not having the answers was not acceptable. Having faith in the unknown was not acceptable. Thus the Corinthians traded their faith in God for foolish wisdom.
Some people are just too smart for their own good. Their intelligence is not tempered with humility so they become prideful and in their pride they adopt illogical and idiotic stances. They mess up and instead of correcting themselves their pride forces them to adjust their views to support their own knew stance. Their faith in their own wisdom, in their own prowess, becomes their own downfall as they start to become that which they represent and an attack on their misguided thesis is an attack upon them. Sadly, by trying to act high and mighty, they prove themselves to be childish.
This reminds me of a story when I was in first grade. Valentine’s Day has come and every one in my class brings their cards and snacks to be gifted to each other. It was almost like Halloween but with a lot more pink and hearts. There was only one problem, I hated chocolate. I know, weird… a person who actually hated chocolate? But yes, I didn’t like it, and everyone in my family already knew that, which is why growing up one of my aunts always made sure there was a slice of white cake for me since both her kids only wanted chocolate cake. But I digress; the point is here is all this chocolate that all the kids were eating and here is me not eating a single piece of chocolate. I kind of felt left out and that saddened me. My teacher, bless her heart, knew something wasn’t right and asked me why I wasn’t eating the chocolate. And that is when I messed up.
In my emotional state I proceeded to lie by stating that I was allergic to chocolate. And whereas I don’t quite remember the rest, what I can say is that I went into a tear induce tantrum that lead to me sitting in the office waiting for my mom to come address the issue of my fake allergy.
The point is that I messed up, and after I messed up, I ran with it, and I didn’t let off on the lie, becoming more childish by the minute. With those who suffer with too much intelligence that’s not tempered by humility, all it takes is one mistake, one false statement, one mathematical error, and it is downhill from there as their hubris would not allow them to correct course.
We have seen this played out throughout all of church history, where in an effort to address an unanswerable question they make something up that doesn’t quite align with scripture, and instead of adjusting their own questionable stance they instead adjust scripture to themselves. They became God over Scripture, unable to deny themselves, unable to humble themselves, unable to say there are no answers, etc. They become their own worst enemy as they just keep on digging their hole deeper and deeper.
The problem is that they want to be wise and intelligent, but according to their own earthly standards. So when Christ came into the world and flipped that standard on its head, thwarting the wise and destroying the wisdom of the world by making the foolish wise and the wise foolish. What God proclaimed was foolishness to the world and a stumbling block. And what the world claimed was wise was actually foolish to God. In fact God intentionally choose the foolish to shame the wise. I sat down with sinners to shames the haughty Pharisees. He lifted the poor to shame the nobility. He even chose those that the world despised. He did this to shame those who boast in themselves.
Consider this, which of these two are wiser, the wisest man who has ever touched the earth according to human standards but knows not God, or the most foolish person who has ever touched the earth according to human standards but does indeed know God. The wiser is the fool.
When faced with the amazing Grace of God which surpasses all understanding as it unconditionally saves all who places their faith not in human reason but in the cross alone, boasting not in human abilities but in God alone, when we see the truth of the cross and the eternal salvation that comes through it, then and only then will we be truly wise. For as it states in Job 28:28, “The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.” But we also acknowledge that without the grace of God the Father through the Holy Ghost which provides for us faith in God the Son, then we would not fear the Lord nor turn away from evil. Thus wisdom and knowledge, true wisdom and knowledge, comes only from God the author of life and not from sinful humans. So as sinful humans get all puffed up using their knowledge as a bludgeoning tool to bully those not as smart, it is Christ Crucified who exposes their foolishness.
He who died on the cross to forgive us of our sins becomes our wisdom for though we are foolish, true wisdom is found in Christ. He who died on the cross to forgive us of our sins becomes our righteousness because we who are foolish do not nor could ever without the grace of God fathom what righteousness looks like. He who died on the cross to forgive us of our sins becomes our salvation because we who are foolish search in all the wrong places trying to find for ourselves our own version of heaven.
If I had to choose between being too wise for God and being a fool for Christ, then go ahead and call me a fool. I don’t care what you call me, for in the end having God on my side is more important than my own ego. I rather be an idiot whose place in heaven is guaranteed, than be an intellectual who claims to be too smart to believe in some spaghetti monster in the sky. I rather live a carefree life knowing that because I am baptized and I have faith that Christ keeps his promise then everything will be alright for eventually I will be in heaven, than to run around like a chicken with its head cut off always worrying about life after death.
I can go on, but in the end, if my intelligence or search for intelligence ever becomes a hindrance towards faith in God whose foolishness is still wiser than the wisest, then count me with the fools who have placed their blind faith in God. For this I know, Christ died to set me and all of you free, and that’s all I need to know.
Let us pray,
Dear Heavenly Father, in our intellect we may cast our sinful eyes away from you, proving our wisdom to be folly. Direct our eyes back to you and become for us our own wisdom, our own righteousness, and our own salvation. In your name we pray: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.