It been nearly fifteen months since the church plant had it’s last Sunday together. We lasted a little more than ten years. They were ten of the toughest and most challenging years of my life. There were many dark days and long, fear filled nights. I was left wounded, angry, weary, and disillusioned.
It’s taken many months of healing, study, prayer, and reflection to be able to see clearly. Through the clearing and the benefit of hindsight, I’m beginning to put words to the nature of my most persistent struggle. I made so many decision that I still believe reflected sound doctrine, that caused me much pain, and left me feeling weak and foolish. These feelings would dog me throughout the life of the church plant. Eventually, they would get the better of me.
I could never get beyond the foolishness. I couldn’t learn to operate in the weakness. I didn’t want to; I rebelled against them both. I hadn’t yet come to internalize or value the truth that I can’t say I didn’t already know.
Ministry is a calling for the weak and the foolish.
Finding a way to accept this truth is not a new problem. In the ancient city of Corinth, the first century church there were having factious quarrels. They were one-upping one another, claiming important and powerful faction leaders. All in a misguided clutching for significance and false displays of strength and wisdom.
The Apostle is inspired to see through the surface symptoms and addresses the infectious cause of their folly in his first letter to them. He does not addresses their behavior, but their misunderstanding of the nature of their calling. My behavior did not mirror their’s, but it came from the same source.
A Foolish Message
1 Corinthians 1:21 (NAS): 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
Paul reminds them just how misguided were their attempts to display strength and wisdom, since God was pleased to save them by a foolish message. The Gospel is not the way of the wise or the strong, it’s the way of the fool and the weak. It appeals to us because we are the weak and the foolish. Yet I found that I was averse to the notion of being weak and foolish.
Consider Your Calling
1 Corinthians 1:26 (NAS): 26 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble;
In order to convince the Corinthians of the reality of their weakness, Paul challenges them to consider their calling. The church has some wise, strong, and noble, but not many. The vast majority of us are weak and foolish, and that pleases the Lord. That Paul reminds them of the calling to prove their present foolishness, implies the Lord was pleased to call fools and pleased that they continue to minister in their foolishness. That’s a bitter pill for us who long to be strong.
But God Has Chosen
1 Corinthians 1:27 (NAS): 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong,
The pill is bitter, but I take great solace in this verse. Yes, I am foolish and I am weak, but it’s God who has chosen. And He was pleased to do so. I pray that comfort leads me to embrace the foolishness and welcome the weakness. Having experienced the depths of my natural revolt against them both, this will be no easy task. But I go to face that task, not in strength, but in weakness.