Summary: The remedy for division rooted in pride is the proper appreciation for the Cross.
A. I love the story of the two men were digging a ditch on a very hot day.
1. One said to the other, “Why are we down in this hole digging a ditch when our boss is standing up there in the shade of a tree?”
2. “I don’t know,” responded the other. “I’ll ask him.”
3. So he climbed out of the hole and went to his boss. “Why are we digging in the hot sun and you’re standing in the shade?”
4. “Intelligence,” the boss said. “What do you mean, ‘intelligence’? Asked the worker.”
5. The boss said, “Well, I’ll show you. I’ll put my hand on this tree and I want you to hit it with your fist as hard as you can.”
6. The ditch digger took a mighty swing and tried to hit the boss’ hand. The boss removed his hand and the ditch digger hit the tree.
7. The boss said, “That’s intelligence!”
8. The ditch digger went back to his hole. His friend asked, “What did he say?”
9. “He said we are down here because of intelligence.” “What’s intelligence?” said the friend.
10. The ditch digger put his hand on his face and said, “Take your shovel and hit my hand.”
11. Some of us are smarter than others – and some of us take too much pride in our smarts.
B. The origin of much of the division in the church over the years has been pride in people and their knowledge and accomplishments.
1. That’s what was going on in the church in Corinth.
2. Different people in the church were proud of certain preachers, and they boasted of certain spiritual gifts they had – the result was division.
3. As the apostle Paul tried to deal with that situation, he pointed to the ultimate remedy for division that is rooted in pride – it is the proper appreciation for the Cross.
4. Preaching a crucified Christ does not minister to pride, arrogance and division.
5. It demolishes them all and binds us together in humble submission to the One who humbled himself and suffered for us all.
C. There is nothing about the message of the Cross of Christ that can be constituted as a ministry to pride.
1. In the eyes of the world, the gospel message is foolishness and the church is despised.
2. Paul presents these facts as a rebuke to the arrogance that was creating divisions at Corinth.
3. Let’s take a look at Paul’s arguments and see how the truths he presents should impact our lives and our ministry here at Wetzel Road.
I. The Divine “Foolishness” of God
A. Look with me again at verses 18-25, “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.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”
B. God did not send a Savior in the way we humans were and are expecting.
1. The Jews had wanted a spectacular display of power – for they wanted a Messiah who would restore them to the glory days of David and Solomon.
2. The Greeks wanted philosophical speculation in the tradition of Plato or Aristotle – for they believed salvation would come to people through knowledge and special insights.
3. Neither the Jewish nor the Greek expectation had any place for a lowly man whose career ended with a horrible death which was reserved for the worst of criminals.
C. “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.” (vs. 18)
1. The message of the Cross was not a popular one in Paul’s day, and it is not a popular one in our day.
2. Our culture wants a gospel that will make us wealthy, brilliant, beautiful and powerful – so we are not very different from the people of Paul’s day.