The Wise Helper
By TJ Nickel
Godly wisdom is displayed in the unifying sacrifice of the cross--the cross which is foolishness to human wisdom. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians addresses existing divisions within the church and then informs us that Godly wisdom calls us to unity:
"For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate. Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" (1 Corinthians 1:19-20, NIV.)
God's wisdom is revealed in the cross, which was intended to bring unity, not division. As was done throughout the stories of the Old Testament, God looked to be a helper to man and bring them to unity in a people, but the people continued to reject this unity in their attempts to reach God in divisive ways. The suffering of God is documented in many fantastic and tragic historic events. Finally, God came down from heaven to be a helper masked in human flesh. However, mankind found his help foolish and killed him on a cross.
At the cross, all things come together. The divisions of the Old Testament and the divisions of the New Testament are forced to deal with the unification of the Helper's people, the church, who are now to be known in Him.
Today, the wise men say that tolerance is the key to goodness, and suffering and death are the keys to evil. By tolerance, they mean a constant division with no judgment. By suffering, they mean human suffering caused by human actions and worldly disasters. These wise men are the scholars and philosophers of this age, and a man suffering to heal the suffering of the world is said to be evil on top of more evil. A man calling all to unification in him stands in opposition to tolerance and therefore goodness. A man calling others to suffer with him, to bear persecution for him, is an idealist dreamer spreading masochism. If God's wisdom is as Paul states, it surely must destroy their wisdom and frustrate their intelligence.
Each January, the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. is celebrated. Today, his message is tied to such things as a celebration of cultural diversity. Unfortunately, this diversity's celebration is often understood in the worldly wisdom of tolerance. It is not tolerance that Dr. King was seeking as the highest end, but freedom in unity. His idealistic dream was togetherness, sameness, unity. Only in this unity is diversity able to be celebrated, and to attain this unity, some things are not to be tolerated.
Dr. King understood that inclusion is not the means to establishing unity in a pluralistic society. Inclusion via tolerance requires extreme exclusion, and division becomes its chief ends. Instead, he dreamed of pluralism protected through the exclusion of evils, and one such evil was division as a chief end.
Paul ends this first chapter of his letter by reminding God's people of how it was against the wisdom of the world that they were grafted into God's covenant with man. He explains to them precisely how God makes foolish the wisdom of our world.
"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption." (1 Corinthians 1:27-30, NIV.)
Jesus became wisdom for us. God Incarnate bore our suffering to heal our suffering, grafted us from diversity into unity, and only through this unity does he celebrate our diversity and tolerate us. Here, in Him, we accept his helping hand. Here, in Him, we lay down our wisdom and intelligence, our degrees and our speculation, and here we quit offering him our talents for approval.
Wisdom is found where all things come together into unity: at the cross, where we killed our Helper.
TJ NICKEL is a Christian husband, father, student and freelance writer, striving to dive deep into the human condition and point to Christ. If you would like to write to him, you can do so through the Letters page of this magazine.