The word of the day is “shame.” If we hope to sit at the table of the Kingdom to come, can we also seek to sit in the seats of wisdom, power, honor in the kingdoms of this world? Today in our reading of 1 Cor 1:26-29, Paul writes, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (OSB vs. 27). Today, we consider the contrast between two kinds of honor and shame, and we find that we must decide which we will reject and which we will seek.
In our reading, Paul defends his proclamation of the Gospel. Some in Corinth are contending that his preaching was not wise, powerful, or praiseworthy. Then apostle responds that he did not come to them with lofty words to demonstrate that he was wise, strong, and honorable. Rather, he brought the seeming folly of the Gospel of the Cross. Accordingly in Romans he wrote, “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” (OSB Romans 1:16).
The Cross of Christ Turns Shame to Honor
The message of “Christ Crucified,” in fact, puts the wisdom, power, and honor of the world to shame. The translation in The Orthodox Study Bible that God chose to shame the wise and the powerful is too weak for the sense of what Paul is saying. Instead, the Cross of Christ “confounds” the wise, powerful, and honored (Strong’s #2617, 30). It puts the distinguished of this world to confusion and bewilderment.
In the End, All Will Honor Christ as Lord
The only appropriate response to such an amazing message is to accept it and to submit whatever wisdom, power, and honor we might have to it. The Son of God who died on the Cross and rose again is due worship not mere words as impressive as they might be. Eventually, everyone must acknowledge Him as God. Therefore, St. Paul declares in Philippians, “…that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue confess that he is Lord to the Glory of God the Father (vs. 10-11).
What is all the glory of this passing world compared to the eternal glory of the Cross. What is the power of the greatest orators on earth compared to the saving power of Gospel? What is the wisdom of this world compared to the “depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, His “unsearchable judgment and His inscrutable ways (Romans 11:33)? When we pursue the things of this world, we are like children who would choose an ice cream cone over a $100 bill.