The Foolishness of the Cross
Bo Giertz writes in his book “The Knights of Rhodes” the following:
Chancellor D’Amaral looks at his Muslim servant work in the garden. He asks Ibrahim about what he is thinking. The Muslim’s answer: “Paradise.” “Do you believe that you will go there?” inquired the Chancellor. “Naturally, Lord, because I have a better faith.” “Better? Better than what?” “Than yours, Lord.”
“You will have to explain what you mean by that.” The servant was hesitant. “May one speak from his heart?” “You may, Ibrahim.” “God is one.”
“True, Ibrahim.” But the servant continued: “He is exalted, higher than the heavens, unimaginable, glorious beyond all understanding. It is impossible to conceptualize him … If we could conceptualize him, he would no longer be God.”
The Chancellor agreed: “That is true, Ibrahim.”
“Neither could he be God, if he were like we are,” Ibrahim added. The Chancellor remained silent even though he wanted to contradict his servant. He wanted to hear more. At the risk of being sent to the rower’s bench again Ibrahim dared to continue. In fact, he was quite audacious. “Lord, we would never venture to say that the infinity exalted would have a son with a woman. That the glorious and divine, the blessed and unspeakable, who we cannot find a word for – that he could be found in a wretched, sweaty human body that is susceptible to sores and colic, has to stuff itself with porridge and go to the bathroom like we do.”
Then the Turk unleashes the clincher: “Lord, it is blasphemy. Therefore God has given us victory. See for yourself, lord: Egypt, Syria, Africa, Byzantium, and Bulgaria – all are liberated. God restores his glory everywhere again through us his unworthy servants. How would we have been able to do it, if God was not with us?”
Sadly, in the book the Chancellor does not answer this challenge with the Word of One True Living God, the Triune God. (He fumbles around with a theology just as poor, wrong and damning as that of the Muslim, relying on how “it still comes down to how one lives”. A false and deadly belief.)
The Chancellor would have done much better to answer with and believe the Word of God such as this:
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and he discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength,” (1 Cor. 1:18-25).
Lent is all about focusing upon the foolishness of the One True Living God, the foolishness of the Cross. Of how the Almighty and Unfathomable God does not distance or remove Himself from us, but so loves us that He enters His creation to redeem it. The Uncontainable God the Son contains Himself in our very flesh in order to be our substitute under His Holy Wrath. God becomes Man – takes on our nature totally, yet without sin, (Yes, taking on our lowly condition, He sweats, hungers, thirsts, defecates, weeps and is tempted like every one of us, yet without sin). Then while hanging upon the Cross of Calvary, covered in the filth of every single sin of every man, woman and child of history, He actually dies in our place. The Eternal God, without beginning or end, dies. Utter foolishness to natural man, but the wisdom of God that accomplishes salvation – proven by His victorious resurrection from the dead!
The Cross of Christ alone is the work of salvation, period. No matter how devoted, sincere or “better faith” some may hold, if it is not trusting in Christ and His work of the cross and empty tomb, they are lost in their “wisdom” unto eternal death. God give you His grace this Lententide that your trust solely in this “foolishness” of the Cross, and enable you to share this true wisdom with those around you.