1 Corinthians 1:18-20 – “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. For it is written: ‘ I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”
I remember when I was growing up hearing family members and even friends who suggested that I was smarter than many of my peers. “Oh, you’re so smart” or “I could never be as smart as you.”
I was a good reader, yes – but those who are smart rarely find themselves facing the kinds of difficulties I brought on myself. The more I was lauded for being wise, the more foolish I tended to act.
In that sense, I was the foolish, wise man.
I was raised in a conservative, semi-religious home. Rarely did we miss going to Sunday school and to church each week. My Dad would studiously listen to the pastor sermonize about one thing or another, then upon leaving would check the box “yep, I went to church” and go back to his life.
In the 15 or so years I went to church before joining the military, I never once was introduced to Jesus.
I finally met him when I was traveling on business as a man in my late 30’s. I was in Mobile, AL and working to promote an event that we were bringing to the city. In one of my meetings, I met the Pastor of a non-denominational, charismatic, Christ-centered church. Having only known the routine of a Lutheran church service, I was both invited to see what their ‘worship’ services were like but also cautioned how different it would be.
There was no pulpit – no choir. Instead, there was a stage and a rock band. When they started playing, there were no hymns, but people instead were dancing in the aisles.
Upon first hearing it, the message of the cross seemed foolish to me. Yet in my personal life, I was suffering and indeed perishing.
In the days and weeks to follow, Jesus showed up here and there in my life. He made it clear that he was real and that I was being invited to worship him instead of the religion I had known since birth.
Initially, I was frustrated but slowly opened my heart up to it. Then as I started to explore his scriptures and studying it for myself, I found that what I had thought of as wisdom was in fact foolishness. In pursuing an understanding of all that happened on that fateful day when Jesus paid my debt on the cross, I found the power of God was available to me.
That day in Mobile people were worshipping their Savior, Jesus who had offered them a path to eternal life. He had paid the debt for their sins and they were set free from the bondage they had lived in. Out of their joy, they danced.
My life was transformed by it. In the nearly 20 years since I’ve only been back to the Lutheran church where my roots were and was sad to see it dying off like so many of its members. They were church people, religious in every way – but they didn’t know or worship Jesus.
Fortunately for me (and you), a path exists out of the foolishness of organized religion, and if you take it will find yourself on a path to real freedom. One centered in Christ.
Praise God today for that and when you have an opportunity, maybe even dance a bit. It’s ok, you know.