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Friday, July 17, 2009

Paul's Reminder to the Corinthians

Read 1 Cor. 1:18-2:1-5

For reflection : 27But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Paul here reminds the Corinthians of the contrast between how the world defines wisdom (lofty words, eloquence, skilled in debating, intelligence) versus how God presented (and presents) wisdom (truth) and power through Christ. He also reminds them that the world could not “get over itself” and come to accept the truth that is Christ. Jesus became for them not the power of God but a stumbling block or foolishness. Secondly, lest they forget or do not understand the application of this passage to themselves Paul lays out in verses 26-31 how the power of God rests now in them – people who were (most of them) not of noble birth or known for worldly wisdom. (See also 26-31 in comparison to verses 5-7). Last Paul then points to himself as an example of God’s wisdom and power applied as they have witnessed (Ch. 2:1-5). All of this can be summed up in this way: all glory and honor and praise to God from whom all wisdom and power comes. He uses the lowly and shameful things (such as myself) to show that His power is not dependent upon the instrument.

So what if any relevance does this passage have to you as a law student? It is quite cliché to state that the study of law is hardly an exercise in humility, cliché but true. In fact, your legal education can, at minimum, strengthen whatever pride you have in your abilities (causing you to be more conceited) and cause you to care a little too much about how you do in your classes (versus how much you have really learned). At worst I have witnessed Christian students pursue their worth through their education. Certainly, it is not easy to maintain humility and kingdom, Christ-centered thinking in an environment in which the highest regarded job is becoming a judge – those whose occupation carries with it a cloak of worldly wisdom and power. In order to avoid this worldly self-centered thinking, students must come and reflect on what their faith is founded on – Jesus and him crucified (see verse 2 of chapter 2 – [f]or I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. – my emphasis). This passage is not advocating anti-intellectualism rather Paul is exhorting believers to purpose themselves to knowing Jesus, to never take their focus away from Jesus and how God chose His power and strength to be made manifest in him who suffered and died for us who then became to us “wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” Last, as Paul states in this letter, worldly wisdom does not lead to anything (eternally) while the cross is the power of God which changes lives! Our smart, creative, carefully constructed legal arguments may take us to the top of the rankings, win us accolades, and provide a well paying summer associate position or lucrative job but at the end of the day all of that cannot do what the cross does, change and transform lives. Our pursuit must be one in which we desire to have a wisdom not based on the world’s ideas of wisdom but one that is based upon the “foolishness” of the cross in order that our law degrees be instruments through which we can see redemption occur.
~ Dan Kim, Deputy Director of Law Student Ministries at CLS 

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