Summary: Paul's whole battle with the Corinthians was to get them to stop being wise before the world and fools before God, and to reverse that to being fools before the world, and wise before God.
The mayor and other dignitaries were looking into the vast pit dug for
the new hospital to be built. The town half-wit came up and gazed into the
pit, and asked the mayor what he was going to do with this big hole. The
mayor decided to humor him and said, "We are going to round up all the fools
in town and pile them in there." The half-wit thought a moment and then
said, "Whose gonna be left to cover um up?"
Even a half-wit knows that in some sense all men are fools, but I have
to confess I never really realized to what degree this is true until I
studied what the Bible says about fools and foolishness. The subject is so
vast, and the evidence is so overwhelming that only a fool would deny that
all men are fools. This does not sound very nice, however, and so it is wise
for us to see there is a positive side to being a fool. So much so, that
Paul in I Cor. 3:18 urges Christians to be fools, and in 4:10 he says, "We
are fools for Christ."
To add to the paradox of being a Christian fool, Paul in this passage of
I Cor. 1:18-31 glories in Christian folly, and links almost everything of
Christian nobility to foolishness. He writes of the foolishness of the cross;
the foolishness of wisdom, and the foolishness of preaching, and most
shocking of all, for it seems to border on blasphemy, Paul even writes in
verse 25 of the foolishness of God. Then he says in verse 27 that God chose
the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. And the foolish things
are the Christians.
So what it comes down to is this: All men are in some sense fools, but
sense all are not fools in the same way, we have to make a distinction
between worldly fools and wise fools. The worldly fools are those who feel so
wise they have no need of light from God. These fools say in their hearts
that there is no God. Man is the measure of all things, and He determines
His own destiny. They say science and human philosophy is all we need to
produce a utopia. We do not need the Bible or God to create our own heaven.
The wise fool, in contrast, recognizes that human wisdom is so limited,
and so there is a need for wisdom from above. They are seeing as fools from
the point of view of the worldly fool. God, however, sees them as wise, and
so the two perspectives make them wise fools-that is people who seem to
choose foolishness and trust in foolishness, but because it is the
foolishness of God they are wise. So what we have here is a study in
relativity. The worldly wise who reject God's revelation are, in relation to
eternal truth, fools. Those, however, who choose the way of God are seen as
fools, in relation to the way of the world, but in fact, they are the truly wise.
Type one fools seem wise to men, but are fools to God.
Type 2 fools seems fools to men, but are wise to God. So
wisdom and folly are relative to whose perspective you are seeing them from.
Paul's whole battle with the Corinthians was to get them to stop being
wise before the world and fools before God, and to reverse that to being
fools before the world, and wise before God. The goal of the Christian is to
become a wise fool. The Corinthians were missing this mark because they came
from a long tradition of philosophers who had all the answers. As Greeks
they were considered a wise people. The result was, the church was in chaos
because of all the pride of worldly wisdom. Some thought Paul was the best.
Others that it was Peter, and still others that Apollos was number one. Some
said they were all wrong, and we follow Jesus only. The church was divided
because, in their pride,they were deciding what was best. They were also
picking and choosing the gifts they felt were best. In pride Christians can
set themselves up as the judge of what is wise and what is foolish, and in so
doing they make their human judgment, rather than God's revelation,
the basis for their value system, and this is folly. If human reason is going to \
be the standard of judgment, then the whole
plan of God is nothing but foolishness, and nothing is more foolish than the
foolishness of the cross. Just look at the evidence of its folly.
1. The innocent dying for the guilty.
2. The folly of having a way out and not taking it.