Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

Foolish Paths

I am writing a sermon this week that is based on 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. Paul reminds us that the message of Christianity is radical. The fact that God came to us in the form of a suffering servant does not equate. Paul put it this way.

(1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV11-GK) For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,

The Greek word translated message (in the NIV) is logos. You might remember John describing Jesus as the word become flesh. God spoke the world into being with his logos (word). Now, Paul says, God’s word involves a cross. This is difficult for us to comprehend. God, the Creator of all things, entering our world and suffering a criminal’s death of torture. This is foolishness to many. The word used for foolishness is the Greek word moria, from which we derive the English word moron. For many, the idea that God would give his life on a Roman cross is moronic. Who considers the message foolish?

(1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV11-GK) those who are perishing

The Greek uses a present middle participle here. What does that mean? A better translation might be something like this.

those who are on their way to ruin

In other words, there are two roads. Some are heading down the road that leads to death, to ruin. And for the ones walking down that road, the cross makes no sense. But Paul continues to describe a different road.

(1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV11-GK) but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Others are heading down the road of salvation. They see the cross in a different light. It is not foolishness to them, it is power. In fact, it is the only way that our sins can be forgiven. It makes perfect sense.

As I reflect on this passage, I am reminded that God’s way is not always the way that seems right. Solomon agrees. He describes in Proverbs 14,

(Proverbs 14:12 NIV11-GK) There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.

As we learn to discern the leading of the Holy Spirit, we must be aware that God often takes the unconventional route. For some of us, God’s way will look foolish or moronic. But as we walk with God, we are able to experience the power of God’s leading. Have you ever encountered this dynamic? It did not make sense in the world’s way of thinking, but somehow God revealed that a particular path was His plan. As you followed, you saw God’s power, God’s provision in extraordinary ways. Aren’t you glad you listened to the Spirit?

May we be a people who continually discern the Spirit of God. May we learn that God likes to take unusual paths. May we also discover the joy of following God, even when the way seems idiotic.