Wisdom from the Word
Wisdom from the Word #3 - 5/10/2023
Fools for Christ
“For I think that God has set forth us last, the apostles, as it were appointed to death; for we have become a spectacle to the world and to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are honorable, but we are despised.” 1 Corinthians 4:9 – 10
In 1 Corinthians, Paul uses some strong language to stress his point to the church about how they should be living, and that they should be, “imitators” of his teachings (1 Corinthians 4:16). Paul wanted the Corinthians to stay the course they were shown. Somewhere along the way they strayed off center.
The Apostle Paul was a unique and remarkable person. Well educated, yet humble in his delivery. Often, he would say that he did not use fancy speech or big words to impress anyone (1 Cor. 2:1). His desire was to give the simple message of the Gospel to all who would listen. To Paul, the Gospel was everything and he did not want his education or training to get tangled in the mix of conversation about Jesus (Acts 22:3ff). Remember, people don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.
Knowing a little of Paul’s background and training, it is surprising he should use such words to describe his calling to serve Christ. He calls himself a “fool for Christ’s sake.” Making his readers then and us today scratch our heads and wonder just what he means. The explanation comes from the word spectacle. It is the Greek word, theatron from which we get our word theater. Paul is saying that the apostles were living out the gospel as performance, but it was not romantic or appealing. It was tragic. The word spectacle was used in Paul’s day to describe the “show” that would take place when a Roman general would return from battle. The citizens would line the streets shouting their praise and adoration for him as victor in the battle to conquer the world.
As the general made his way slowly by chariot into the city square, his entourage would be followed in the end by those who were captured in battle. They were made a “spectacle” for all to see and jeer. Eventually, these captives were brought into the arena and used as food for lions. People would crowd in to see the “spectacle being made of the spectacles.” Paul’s point was that the apostles were like those captured in battle and made a spectacle; to die because of being captured and defeated. The apostles would give their lives for the cause of Christ. Paul wanted the Corinthians to imitate the devotion he and the apostles had for Christ and His Kingdom. Everything Christ taught and lived was as foolishness to the world, but they ere willing to give up everything to follow Him!
How does the world see you in your relationship to Jesus Christ? Does it seem foolish to them that you wake up on Sunday mornings and get dressed up to go and sit in a crowded building listening to someone speak for an hour? Do they wonder what motivated you to participate in such events weekly? How are you perceived by your friends, family, or co-workers for your devotion to Christ? They are watching and they should see a spectacle! They should see someone who is fully committed to following Christ to the end.
Quoting Phillip Henry (1631 – 1696) and father of Bible Commentator, Matthew Henry, missionary Jim Elliott wrote in his journal: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” He penned those words in his journal and was shortly afterward martyred by the same tribal leader who would later find Christ.
We are called to follow to the ends of the earth in faith, that no matter the cost or outcome, we are in Christ and He will never leave us. I challenge you to find your place of service both in the church and on mission with God. You will be eternally thankful you did!
Post by: Associate Pastor Keith Wall
Posted in Wisdom from the Word