But God Chose Us

Does the Gospel make sense? Is it logical? Or is it a paradox?
Here are two examples of paradox:
There is nothing constant except change.
The more honest you are about your faults, the more people will think you’re perfect.
God’s ways, to those who are used to the wisdom of the world, seem downright bizarre and paradoxical. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
Why would a being so far beyond our understanding and of such incredible power send a Son to be born as a helpless baby who grew up to be a wise and loving man, and then allow him to be whipped and humiliated, and die a criminal’s death on a cross to save us from our sins? Even the disciples, who knew Jesus intimately and heard him declare many times that he would rise after three days, were flabbergasted to see him alive again. It made no sense. It was and is a paradox of love.
The rest of the world doesn’t believe in the kind of love God shows us, would show to them.
What’s so wrong with worldly wisdom? It believes in loving yourself first, in having the most status, comfort, and toys. It values youth, physical beauty, athletic achievement, and making money. Sounds good on the surface – unless you’re not young, or beautiful, or athletic or well off. Then it leaves you out in the cold, or worse, treats you with disdain and leaves you to starve.
God’s values are higher and deeper. God says for us to love one another and love our neighbors, even to pray for those who persecute or spitefully use us. (Matt. 5:44)
Why does God value behavior that often leads to conflict and persecution for the poor in spirit, the peacemakers, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, even those who speak of Jesus and can expect to be reviled for it? Theologian Baron Mullis said, “God’s way runs so counter to much of what the world expects, that those who dare to engage the world on God’s terms by blessing the peacemakers, the pure, the merciful, and the righteous, can themselves expect to be persecuted.”
It’s not an easy path, because it’s so counter to the world’s view of how things are. But God knows that this is the only way to change the thinking of the lost toward something more wonderful, more blessing, more holy.
Jesus promised that we will be blessed for showing Him to others, if not now, then in heaven.
In our passage from 1 Corinthians, Paul repeatedly sums up the paradox of the gospel with these words which are literally translated from the Greek, “But God…”
But God chose the foolishness of the Gospel to save those who believe, and to shame the wise.
But God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, and the low and despised in the world to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.
We are all sinners. As Paul told the Romans, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;” but God chose to save us with the one thing he values the most – his only Son, because he loves us beyond our ability to understand why.
Because the world didn’t believe God’s wisdom proclaimed through signs and prophesy during the Old Testament times, God chose to give the world something the prophets predicted but came in an unexpected way – Jesus the Christ, the power, wisdom, sanctification and redemption of God. Many people who were waiting for the Messiah dreamed of a man on a mighty steed leading an army who would free them from the Romans, not a humble carpenter who would die at their hands.
Because Christ’s poverty, teachings, and crucifixion were considered shameful, not a sign or a wonder, the Jewish leaders didn’t accept him as the Messiah. They didn’t witness His miraculous emergence from the tomb. The testimony of the women who saw him first wasn’t believed because they were women. The Jewish leaders didn’t see him after he rose. They missed the miracle. Most of them couldn’t believe God would work that way, even when they heard about it later.
Then God chose unexpected, uneducated, low-born, despised, and weak people to bear the message of Christ, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. God chose us to do the same, because He loves us in spite of our sinful nature, believes in us, and empowers us through the Holy Spirit.
There are people, the poor in spirit, who wonder whether they truly belong to Jesus’ kingdom, whether they are an asset or a liability to Christ’s cause. The answer is they are both an asset and a liability, and the kingdom is already theirs. The Beatitudes remind us that there is more than one thing that is true in many situations. Jesus promised us blessings in spite of hard times, in spite of the rejection we receive because our ways are not those of the world around us.
Here’s another example of a paradox, one that God addressed through salvation: The more afraid you are of death, the less you’ll be able to enjoy life. Christ frees us from the fear of death and brings us to the joyful knowledge that we will be with him in heaven after we die.
Being blessed doesn’t always look positive or feel good at the time. You may have lost someone dear to you, but God sent you comforters. Those who are persecuted will have trouble and sorrow in this life, but God will greatly reward them in heaven. When you feel like God is far away, remember to say to yourself, “But God says I’m blessed. God chose to love me. God chose me to be Christ’s hands and feet.” God chose us. Let us reflect the joyful paradox to which we are called. Alleluia and Amen.

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