“No one should deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this age, he must become foolish so that he can become wise.” (1 Corinthians 3:18)
Foolishness is the pathway to wisdom. That sound irresponsible, doesn’t it? Even oxymoronic. What father, for example, would say to his teenage son, “Son, I want you to become foolish”? Instead, a father would try to put his son on the pathway to maturity. Proverbs in fact advises repeatedly against the pursuit of foolishness in favor of the pursuit of wisdom. So, what in the world is Paul doing here?
For one thing, he is dealing with the “wisdom cult” at the Corinth church. Some of these folks held the view that wisdom was the means for getting into heaven, that the universe in fact revolved around wisdom. So they promoted the pursuit of wisdom. Paul’s response was that human wisdom did not even come up to the level of “God’s foolishness.”
For another thing, Paul was promoting the cross of Jesus as the means which established the possibility of eternal life for us. He spoke of the message of the cross as being viewed by the world as foolishness, and yet, the cross is God’s wisdom. The foolishness of the cross is part of the way God pushed aside any efforts to cling to human wisdom as a source for salvation. The cross was God’s way of shaming “the wise.”
Third, Paul was encouraging the Corinth church to pursue God’s wisdom rather than man’s. Since God’s wisdom is foolishness in the world’s view, pursuing God’s wisdom is thus pursuing what the world sees as “foolishness.” This particular pursuit of foolishness is, therefore, the way to wisdom – God’s wisdom.
Lord, We recognize that many in our world see the cross and our faith and call it all foolishness, but for us this path of foolishness has led us to Your wisdom. For that we thank You, and we commit ourselves today to continue on this path. Amen.