1 Corinthians 1:21
21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
1 Corinthians 2:14
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
I saw a documentary a couple years ago about a how a debate team prepares for their debating contests. It was fascinating to watch as they did tons of research. They spent a great amount of time memorizing and organizing all of the information they gathered so that during the debate they would be able to make the most rationed and logical argument to win the debate. There are times when I am sort of like this with the way I talk about Jesus. I search the Bible and make detailed notes of all that I am reading so that in a moment I can give a logical account for what I believe. I try and make sure all the loose ends are tied up so that my presentation of Christ will stand the scrutiny of the listener. What I often forget is that Gospel is not intended to make sense to those who God has not prepared to hear the message. I like how 1Cor 1:21 tells us that God’s plan is not for us to know Him through our own intellectual pursuits but rather to know Him through belief in a preached message. It begs the question if the only way our friends and family will be saved is through the proclamation of the Gospel, what are we doing to get the message proclaimed to them?
The other concept that is key in these verses is to realize that in our natural state we will never be able to understand the things of God. The reason for this is our natural inclination is to do what we can to esteem ourselves. We feel that something cannot be accepted or believed until we can work it out for ourselves. This is the great flaw of self-importance and self-reliance that we are born with. We cannot receive God in our natural state because we already have a god there. The god of self. This is why Paul explains to us in 1 Cor 2:14 that our natural inclination is to reject the claims of God as silly or nonsensical. He goes on to tell us that a spiritual work must occur in us for us to ever a have relationship with or understanding of God.
So if the intellect is not the path to understanding about God should we disregard it all together? Certainly not. The Scriptures teach us that there is a duality about us. It teaches that as God draws us to Him we become a new spiritual creation, so dwelling in us is our natural condition and this new spiritual condition. The natural condition is unchanged and still desires to worship the god of self while the new condition is connected to God Himself by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The challenge that we are faced with is to bring the natural condition into submission to the spiritual one. I think that we do this by seeking God and using our intellect to pursue Him in Scripture. I think we also do this by rejecting other gods our minds might hold in esteem.
Well I have gotten long winded, so let me close with this thought. We will never be able to fully understand Jesus and God through intellectual pursuits. Often times when we try to, we easily find things to disbelieve or doubt based on logic. The challenge is really not to come to own understanding but to allow the Spirit of God to work in us and guide us. We have to be mindful that if this is our reality then it is also the reality of everyone we know. Keeping that in mind, I feel like we have to reason less and proclaim more, understanding it is not our keen arguments that adds to our numbers, but rather the power God through the preaching of the Gospel that does the work.
Heavenly Father, thank you God that you love us and that you chose to speak to us about your ways and your plans. Give us ears to hear you today and help us understand your perfection. Forgive us for leaning more on our intellect and less on your Spirit. You are our God and there are no others. We lift praise to you this morning. In Jesus’ name. Amen