The Cross: Foolishness & Weakness…NOT

Sermon by Tanya Fernandes

NT Reading: Psalms 19: 7-11 & 14

OT Reading: I Corinthians 1:18-25

I’m sure you know that I like to start my sermons with some humor, so I was looking around for a good joke or story to jump start us and then I came upon a blog called “When God Speaks, I Listen” by Tanya Nemley:

She believes that God has a sense of humor, but she said a really interesting thing: “Does God laugh? (out of humor) I really don’t know…..but….It’s wiser…. to not try to get a laugh out of God but to seek His blessings instead. God doesn’t need us to be Sinbad, Henry Cho or Steve Martin……But…to Be Holy because God is Holy.” Tanya Nemley, When God Speaks I Listen

This made me stop and think about the times when the bible says that God laughs—-all of them involve humans being foolish, such as in Ps 2:1-6, 59:8, and Proverbs 1:26-28.

So….I’m not really wanting God to laugh at me; however, I’m sure there are a number of times when I have drawn a laugh from God—-when I have been foolish—–self-willed and so smart that I didn’t need His truths and ways——-If God laughs at fools, I’m sure I have brought a chuckle to God’s lips, at times.

An author on the Christian Funny Pages Website wrote about God: “You don’t expect someone full of love and compassion to laugh in the face of wicked people. (sic) But if you think about it, it is what you expect from someone in complete control, someone who has a plan, and someone who loves righteousness. What Makes God Laugh? A Reflection on Psalms 2

We shake our heads at those we see as foolish because we know they are creating their own problems—God knows the end of prideful, arrogant and self-willed people—it’s like uhm, uhm, uhm honey child, as you shake your head in sorrow.

What Makes One a Fool?

Several scriptures help us know this. Here are a few:

Psalms 14:1 & 7a ”The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. .. . Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion!”

Is 5:21 “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight”
Proverbs 10:23 “Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool……..”
Proverbs 16:25 “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death”
Proverbs 28:11 “The rich man is wise in his own eyes…”

Isaiah 47:10-11 “You felt secure in your wickedness and said, ‘No one sees me,’ Your wisdom and your knowledge, they have deluded you; For you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’ 11 “But evil will come on you which you will not know how to charm away; And disaster will fall on you for which you cannot atone; And destruction about which you do not know will come on you suddenly.”

Roman 1:21-32 “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; (Here’s the end result of being foolish RE God) 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Can’t you hear David calling out in Ps 14—-“…there is none that doth good…OHHHHH that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion!—Oh that the messiah would come—-BUT the problem is that Jesus is come, and we have freedom in America to follow HIM and yet we are farther from God today than ever.

What Do Fools Not Understand?

1st! Christ! They do not and cannot understand Christ!! In the Old Testament they did not understand faith in a just God or in yielding to a Holy God. What the fool of 2018 does not get is Christ—the need for salvation and the work of faith in the cross of Christ.

Our NT Reading states this very clearly: I Cor 1: 18-25 “18 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……. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, (the Jews stumbled over Grace believing they had to work for God’s love—the Greeks were proud intellectuals so they see God’s plan as ridiculous—fables created for weak minded people) 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” (the worse that God has to offer is better than anything, A-N-Ything we think we have)

I Cor 2: 7-8 tell us, “but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;

The person who has not believed in Jesus as the Son or God, as the Messiah, struggles to understand the salvation message—first, they do not realize they sinners and they do not rightly judge themselves as needing grace. Second, the Son of God becoming human, becoming the least, and sacrificing himself for sinners is non-sense to them. Third, the idea of the resurrection of Christ is a fairy tale that weak people have created to have something to hold onto in life. Fourth, the promise that Christ will return and that all will worship him…including the fools who think they know more than God does…is a fantastic hope for power on the part of the weak believers—-
America has become like the Greeks of Paul’s time—–the message of the cross is non-sense to non-churched Americans—it goes against science, it goes against this generations focus on pleasing self, and it goes against the idea that our society is enlightened.
America almost worships but belittles wisdom—–Knowledge is about facts and ideas that we acquire through study, research, investigation, observation, or experience. Wisdom is the ability to discern and judge which aspects of that knowledge are true, right, lasting, and applicable to your life.
The second thing that the fool does not understand is The Blessing that Comes from Following God

If the definition of wisdom is correct—having the ability to discern and judge which knowledge is true, right, lasting, and applicable to one’s life—-then the fool who has said in his or her heart that there is no true and living God whom I need to honor and fear and love—that fool is missing the wisdom—discernment to know what is true, what is just, what is right, what is lasting, and what relevant.

Paul talks about being “…tossed about by the waves and carried around by every wind of teaching and by the clever cunning of men in their deceitful scheming.” Eph 4:14
Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, which are based on human tradition and the spiritual forces of the world rather than on Christ.”

Isn’t that like many today—a study comes out and they run this way after it. A theory is proposed, and they act like it is a law of nature even if it leaves God out of the picture—people all around us tossed and carried, running after what looks like enlightened thinking…it has to be exhausting!!

Our OT lectionary reading, Ps 19: 7-11 & 14, emphasizes the completeness of God and of God’s provision for us through his law:

Law of the Lord is perfect refreshing the soul
The statues of the Lord are trustworthy making wise the simple
The precepts of the Lord are right giving joy to the heart
The commands of the Lord are radiant giving light to the eyes
The fear of the Lord is pure enduring forever
The judgements of the Lord are firm and all of them righteous
They are more precious than gold, sweeter than honey
By them we are warned
In keeping them is great reward
Desiring Wisdom

We are to seek wisdom

You likely remember the story of Solomon in II Chronicles 1: 7-12—After the death of King David, Salomon’s father, Solomon becomes king. Solomon goes up before God and offers a significant sacrifice in the tent of meeting. That night, God speaks to Solomon and says, “Ask what I should give you” In other words, tell me what you want…it’s yours. Solomon answers God saying, “Now, O Lord God, Your promise to my father David is fulfilled, for You have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth. Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people, for who can rule this great people of Yours?” God is very pleased at this request. Solomon could have asked for anything for himself; instead, he asks for wisdom so that he might lead. God tells him that in with wisdom will come all the other things that Solomon did not ask for—success, riches, etc.

Romans 12:2 tells us, “…be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” We are to seek wisdom.
Why Should We Seek Wisdom?

John 8:32 “You will know the truth and the truth shall set you free”
Jeremiah 9:24 tells us that if we are going to boast about anything then our boast should be that we know God—the greatest thing that can happen in our lives is that we know God
Proverbs 3:5 tells us to trust in the Lord with all our heart and not to lean on our own understanding—another way to say this is to trust the Lord and lean on his complete and perfect love and provision for us.

So…..How Do we Seek/Find Wisdom?

There is no great and difficult route to find wisdom. God offers it to all.
James 1:5 tells us to merely ask—-“If any lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives generously to all!!”

Proverbs 9:10 tells us “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” We begin our journey of gaining wisdom when we have a right understanding of God and of ourselves. The Website Got Answers stated, “the Fear of the Lord can be defined as ‘the continual awareness that our loving heavenly Father is watching and evaluating everything we think, say, and do… people…try to obtain wisdom while ignoring God—it cannot be done for the simple reason that God is the source of wisdom …Our respect for God’s majesty causes us to honor Him. Our gratitude for His mercy causes us to serve Him well. And the understanding that our God of love is also a God of wrath inspires enough fear to help us stay away from evil…”

We should seek wisdom by studying God’s word AND by welcoming the work of the Holy Spirit—our teacher–in our lives

Jesus told us in John 16:14, ‘The Holy Spirit shall take of mine, and show it unto you, and lead you into all truth.’

One writer said, “…wisdom is not a thing which man finds out for himself, but which God teaches him. Nine-tenths of the mistakes we make in life come from forgetting the fear of God and the law of God, and not saying, ‘I will do what is right: but — I will do what will profit me; I will do what I like.’ If we would say to ourselves manfully, ‘I will learn the will of God, and do it, whatsoever it cost me’; we should find in our old age that God’s Holy Spirit was indeed a guide and a comforter, able and willing to lead us into all truth which was needful for us.”

A blogger asked: “Are you a powerful ruler trying to set yourself up against God? Or are you simply someone making feeble attempts to run your own life – Either way God finds this funny. Don’t be the one who makes God laugh. Serve the Lord in fear. Seek refuge in Him. What makes God laugh? A reflection on Psalm 2 Christian Funny Pages Website

As we are in Lent—examine your heart AND your mind. What is it that YOU really, really believe????? The cross—Is it foolishness? Is it weakness? Does it not make any sense to your enlightened mind? OR Is it Love and Power? Is it a gift (grace) offered freely to all by a Holy, All Knowing, All Powerful, and Loving God?

Don’t be one who makes God laugh by clinging to the weak and feeble hypotheses and doctrines of men…seek real wisdom from above.