“For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength.” I Corinthians 1:25*
Before the gospel is good news, it is paradox, so when Paul describes the cross of Christ, the only way he can do so is with paradoxical statements: foolishness is greater than wisdom and weakness is better than strength. Might as well say green is yellow and down is up!
In our world, from sports to entertainment to business, we love and celebrate winners. We don’t waste our time on the losers—in fact, we ignore them. Who can recall the loser of the last year’s Super Bowl?
In King Lear, Shakespeare pictures a world is which the philosophy of winning at all costs has prevailed. The characters who seem to be winning are those like Regan and Goneril and Edmund who are willing to lie, cheat, steal, and bully to gain power. By contrast, the characters like Kent and Edgar and Cordelia who demonstrate love and loyalty and self-sacrifice appear weak and ineffectual—in short, losers. Paradoxically, the characters who appear to be weak and foolish by human standards are strong and wise when measured by divine standards. As Lear says of Cordelia’s death, “with such sacrifices the gods are pleased.”
Paul, it seems, wants to encourage his readers in Corinth not to view Jesus’s death on the cross as a loss, but rather as a victory—one that demonstrated once and for all the rejection of the values of power and violence in favor of those values that Jesus lived: welcome, acceptance, inclusion, and self-sacrificial love. It demonstrated once and for all that love conquers hate, that the foolishness of God is wiser than the world’s wisdom and that the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Loving God, grant us a clear vision so we may reject the violence and abuse of power so evident in our world and practice instead your radical welcome and self-sacrificial love. Amen.
*Third Sunday of Lent