1 Corinthians 1:18-25
The point of the cross is totally lost on dying people. But it’s God’s power for those of us who are rescued by it. The writings say:
I’ll unhinge the wisdom of the wise,
I’ll outsmart the knowledge of the know-it-alls.
Where’s the smartypants? Where’s the scholar? Where’s the politician? Hasn’t God made fools of them all? God’s wisdom is past the reach of human wisdom. Instead, God decided to rescue those who embrace our foolish story. Jews want to see signs. Greeks long for wisdom. What we have is Jesus, on the cross – which Jews think is revolting, and pagans think is idiocy. Nevertheless, for everyone who’s called to him, regardless of ethnicity, Jesus is God’s power and wisdom. God’s idiocy is wiser than people’s wisdom. God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
There will always be some people who just don’t “get it.” They’re dying because they don’t get it. For whatever reason, they simply can’t figure out what the crucifixion is about. A story about the superhero that gets killed by the bad guys isn’t going to have a very good run in Hollywood. A savior who gives up without a fight doesn’t make sense to people who see the world in terms of political and economic power.
Most of the theology that has accumulated around the cross, particularly Paul’s construction of substitutionary atonement, really doesn’t make sense. Even so, the power of non-violent resistance continues to stymie those addicted to other kinds of coercion all around the world today. There are some people who just don’t “get” what modern practitioners of the way of the cross (Ghandi, and Dr. Martin Luther Kind Jr., for example) did.
The beauty of it is, as Paul says, that it’s available to anyone and everyone. It’s not culturally, ethnically, or even religiously dependent. You don’t need to be the smartest, or the slickest. You just have to get it.