Lord…We are Nothing Without You

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Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God” (verses 27-29).

This is the paradox through which we understand our Christian faith. This revelation defies the “wisdom” of the world. This is so because, as Paul tells us, “God’s foolishness is wiser than all of human wisdom” (verse 25). This revelation through the Holy Spirit is a rebuke of the arrogance of human pride and boastfulness. And, the irony is that only the humble can understand and rejoice in this wisdom of God.

The key is in the language Paul is using. It is the language of irony. For, it is those who consider themselves wise and powerful in the world are the real fools, the truly weak. When the worldly see Christians happily serving others, rather than themselves, or willingly choosing to sacrifice their comfort, even their lives, for the good of others, or joyfully praying for those who persecute them, and forgiving, rather than getting revenge, they identify this behavior as foolishness and weakness. It is because the eyes of those who see themselves as wise and great in the world are blinded by pride that they judge those who humbly believe in Christ as “foolish and weak and nothing” in the world. Only with the eyes of faith can we see that God’s “foolishness” is greater that all of human wisdom.

God’s wisdom is revealed here through the prism of Paul’s experience. Mary, Jesus’ mother, revealed this same wisdom in her canticle after being greeted by her cousin Elizabeth: “He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty” (Luke 1:52-53). When Jesus became flesh, he did not diminish his divinity, rather, he lifted up our humanity. It is through the gracious gift of faith that we have come to see that it is the wisdom of the world that is flawed, and only God’s wisdom reveals the truth about creation and human dignity and justice, and about our status as children of God who have been given a responsibility to humbly and willingly live out that wisdom to the best of our ability, with the aid of God’s generous grace. It is this that the worldly wise despise in us. This is what human wisdom alone cannot grasp. In our Christian faith we believe with Paul, it is Jesus Christ who is our wisdom, our righteousness, and our salvation. Therefore, “Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord” (verse 31).

Lord, we are nothing without you. It is your generous gift of faith that give us the courage to be fools for you. In our weakness, we boast only in you and are made stronger than all that the world can bring against us. It is from you alone that we receive all that is good and true and beautiful. In humble thanksgiving we pray, “Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.” Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.
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