The Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

God Chooses the Low and Despised

The second-century pagan philosopher and Christian antagonist, Celsus, had this to say about Christians: “Their injunctions are like this.  ‘Let no one educated, no one wise, no one sensible draw near.  For these abilities are thought by us to be evils.  But as for anyone ignorant, anyone stupid, anyone uneducated, anyone who is a child, let him come boldly.’  By the fact that they themselves admit that these people are worthy of their God, they show that they want and are able to convince only the foolish, dishonorable and stupid, and only slaves, women, and children” (Fee, NICNT, 81n11; quoting Origen, Contra Celsum 3.44).  Celsus had no respect for Christianity or the Church for the very reason Paul mentions here: Not many of her members were considered wise, powerful, or of noble birth by worldly standards.  (Incidentally, some were of noble birth but, granted, only a few.)  And even more recently, the nineteenth-century atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche thought Christianity a religion only fit for slaves.  (His philosophy of the uberman, the man beyond good and evil, would later feed directly into the twentieth-century monster, the Third Reich.)

These men, and many others, dislike the way God works, the way He orders things, the way He chooses.  Man shall always adore the beautiful, the glamorous, the wealthy, the people and things that glitter.  This is because we are so enamored with what we see, with pretense.  But God is not so taken by outward appearance; God looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).  And God delights in turning upside-down everything man holds dear.  And so He invites the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame to His banquet, and then beats the bushes for more of those the world deems unfit (Luke 14:12-23).  He says things like the first shall be last and the last first (Matthew 19:30).  Indeed, God seems to have no respect for a man’s intelligence, wealth, or estimation of his own self-worth.  So men like Celsus and Nietzsche, who declined to come to the banquet, shake their fist at God for being so, well, … unfair.

And why does God do things this way?  “So that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”  “So that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’”  You see, God will save His people by His own method, so despised by man—the crucifixion of His own dear Son.  And salvation shall be by His grace, or nothing.  Our God gives His glory to no other (Isaiah 42:8), and He deserves all the praise.  And He shall have His praise—from the beggar Lazaruses, the Mary Magdalenes, and, I hope, us.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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