On my knees in the prayer room at Andover Newton Theological School where I am attending seminary, I admitted to God how weak and poor in spirit I was. I am praying for the strength of mind, body, and soul so that I will be able to complete the six papers I have due in the next two weeks. But more than that, I am praying that I do so with the consciousness of mind that “I can of myself do nothing.”
One of the papers that I am writing regards “the foolishness of God” vs. human wisdom. What will come of this paper is of particular interest to me because for so long, I feel like I have lived my life as God’s fool. As often as I can think of it, I go out into the world with the question in my heart, “What will Love have me do today?” After which I step out on faith trusting that no matter what the world sees, my God who knows the intentions of my heart is guiding my steps toward greater knowing of “His” place in my life and deeper service to my fellow travelers in this world.
Sometimes what I do matches with what others–both those who profess Spirituality and otherwise–would expect of me, while other times my actions are a mystery to everyone–including myself. As I get older, I get nervous a lot about how my life is playing out. The truth is I have no idea where it is going. I don’t really expect any different, but I am not unaware of what “I should” be doing according to the pattern of the society I was born into. Yet by faith or by insanity, I have come to understand that, as Saint Augustine said, being in God’s image, “we are attempting to understand a Mystery with a mystery.” How can I ever truly know in this temporal experience, what God has created out of Eternity? I cannot. So I try to do the only thing that makes sense in this context. I strive to walk by faith and not by sight or any of my corporeal senses for that matter. The agreement of my senses is always a welcome bonus, but the agreement of my soul comes first. Of course, this presents many challenges when I try to walk in agreement with others who invest more in sense perception. To them I look like a fool–as I should.
In 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 it states that:
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.
So long I have tried to explain this to people who I love. For this very passage, I have struggled so much in my life. I have wished time and again that these words never made sense to me, so that I could do what feels good to me rather than what I feel compelled to do by my conscience. For the nagging of this passage has made me a fool not just to those who are not Christian, but even to those who live in the church. Because though these words are found in the Bible, they are not owned solely or entirely by those who claim this book.
Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not true because it is in the Bible, it is in the Bible because it is true.”? Well, as God’s fool, I am have come to see that this is true not just for the Bible. The truth of God and “His” means of revealing it is unlimited. The clues to a mystery are found in hidden places–where many of us refuse to look. For me it happened to be by the Way of Jesus but I do not know how God has or will extend the truth of “His” Love to all of my spiritual neighbors throughout eternity. For me, Jesus demonstrates to my soul a pattern of God’s workings that transcend human understanding–period. In this human experience, I cannot see what God is doing, but I can see what God has done when I close my eyes and ears and look and listen with my heart. In faith I can trust that by God’s eternal nature, “He” will do what “He” has always done–reveal “His” righteousness from faith to faith–though I have no idea what form it will take. Nevertheless, I know that it will be from Love, because God is Love.
When you look at it, the idea of someone like the Son of God having to die for the world makes no sense. But then again, that is why it makes so much sense. Only a fool would believe that. By the world’s standards, Jesus and those like Him are complete failures. Where is the success in someone dying like a common criminal? Where is the logic or safety in not following the crowd? Who would be silly enough to risk following this pattern and take the chance of being rejected by everything and everyone you’ve been taught to believe? But it is in this very pattern that the statement in 1 Corinthians 1:25, “For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength” finds validity.
There is a reason why in the Beatitudes, Jesus says that it is the meek, poor in spirit, those who thirst for righteousness etc. who will receive the promises of God. Because of ego, it is very rare that we will admit when we are in need. We try to rely on what we believe to be our own strength. However, it is when we are emptied of self that we can be filled with the power of God which is the source of our lives. It is only in admitting that we are in need that we can receive; in admitting weakness that we can be made strong. It is the gift of a thorn in our flesh to remind us that we are One with God through our need–for God fulfills all of our needs so that in our ego we can never boast of what we can do on our own.
These words from Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 pretty much sum up how and why I am choosing to rely on the foolishness and weakness of God instead of human wisdom:
And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.