for consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
1 Corinthians 1:26-29

we live in a culture that puts a tremendous emphasis on education, wealth, and influence. in many ways you could say that these things have taken the place of God in most people’s lives. if you’re not pursuing the Lord, you could likely fit your pursuits into one of these three categories. 

i’m just as guilty as anyone of wanting to make sure people know how wise i am and how much i know and understand. i certainly don’t want people to consider me a fool and i go to great lengths to avoid ever coming off that way. so these verses can kind of turn me on my head a little.

but look at the disciples Jesus chose, the people he hung out with and those who came to know and believe that he was the Messiah. the disciples were mostly unimpressive and often quite dense in their thoughts and actions. Jesus hung out with tax collectors, prostitutes, homeless people, criminals, and societal outcasts of every kind.

these are probably not the types of people you and i would willingly hang out with, much less pursue on our own. we like educated conversations, rhetoric, and doctrinal discussions. am I going to get that from a homeless guy? 

listen. doctrine is great, and it is important. education, wealth, and influence are not evil in and of themselves. but God does not call us to these things. he calls us to obedience and love, and obedience and love in God’s mind don’t usually make sense to humans. following Jesus does not make you look wise in the world’s estimation. 

and here’s why…who gets the glory when your own personal wisdom wins a soul for Christ? you. and that’s why salvation will never be your responsibility. but who gets the glory when you step out in faithful obedience, do the thing that doesn’t make sense, and then reap the fruit of the harvest? God. 

and this should be good news for us. if God only chose the wise, he certainly wouldn’t choose you or me. there will always be someone more wise. and if God always did things that “made sense” to us, then he would be operating with a limited and human mind. we must trust that His ways are so far beyond ours and derive comfort from the fact that they don’t make sense to our limited brains.

and why shouldn’t we boast in the presence of the Lord? paul wants the corinthians to know just how unimpressive their knowledge and wisdom is in comparison to the perfection of God. that’s why he says “if i boast, i boast in the Lord.” [1 corinthians 1:31] because it’s the only thing that’s worth boasting of. imagine getting into the perfect presence of God and only having yourself to boast about. how pitiful at best, and blasphemous and worthy of destruction at worst. it is a protection for the corinthians to warn them about boasting in themselves.

and it should be a protection and a warning to us too. consider your own thoughts and actions. would you say they point to a boastfulness in the Lord or in yourself? i’d challenge you that the more time you spend in scripture, the less likely you are to boast about yourself. the more time you spend in prayer, the more likely you are to boast in Christ. 

ask God to humble you so that you’re worthy of being chosen for His work. so that in your lowly estate you can shame the wise and confidently boast in the Lord.

-erin boettge