1 Corinthians 1:25: Even The Weakness Of Our God

1 Corinthians 1:25, in the context of speaking about the difference between strength and weakness and wisdom and foolishness in the eyes of man and in the eyes of God, says the following:  “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”  What is the foolishness and weakness of God?  It is the purpose of this particular note to discuss in general outlines the weakness and folly of God, or at least what appears to be weakness and folly when viewed by the human perspective.

It is probably best, in order to make the point clear without causing any unnecessary confusion about one’s point or perspective, to handle this topic in a somewhat indirect fashion.  Let us begin with the assumption that the law of God is the embodiment of the perfect character of God.  Though it is unwise to view God as necessarily obeying His law (since it may not be applicable in certain aspects), he does not break His law or act contrary to it [1].  After all, Titus 1:2 tells us that God cannot lie, and the behavior of Christ during his temptation in the wilderness demonstrates his scrupulous concern for obedience to God and rejecting temptation out of hand, not lingering on it (see Matthew 4:1-11).

From the behavior of God and Jesus Christ as it is seen through scripture, there are a few obvious weaknesses that appear.   For one, obedience to God’s law on a regular basis makes one’s actions predictable.  If one has an enemy who thrives on unpredictability, to be predictable and reliable would appear at first glance to be a weakness, since it would mean that someone is going to know what you are going to do.  The only question is whether someone will be able to stop it.  Another weakness is more limited options.  Those who are wicked and evil are not concerned with truth–they can libel and slander freely.  They are not concerned with the reputations or honor of others, nor are they concerned with conduct that is prohibited.  They have more ‘options’ about what to do in a given situation than those who limit their behavior according to the standard of God.  Again, humanly speaking, this would superficially appear like a weakness.  Additionally, to be filled with love and concern for other people would also appear like a weakness, because it makes one vulnerable to indirect threats by which you can be harmed through attacks directed at someone else one cares deeply about.  Ungodly people care mainly (if not exclusively) about themselves, though, so there is no way to harm them indirectly as they do not care sufficiently about others, even their so-called ‘allies,’ to be harmed by what happens to others.

Nonetheless, though each of these appear like weaknesses on the surface level, they offer advantages on a deeper and spiritual level.  For example, the vulnerability one has from being concerned with other people and caring about them is a strength that leads to the building up of trust.  Trust can only exist when there is genuine love and concern among a group or a family–and that trust allows for actions that focus on what needs to be done rather than wasted efforts of self-protection and self-defense that one has to do when one does not trust those around you.  Effort is more efficiently and effectively made to one’s directed ends.  Likewise, though reliability and dependability may be weaknesses in that other people (who are your enemies) know what you are going to do, they are advantages with regards to one’s allies, because those who you would coordinate efforts with know exactly what you are going to do as well, and can trust you to be faithful and responsible to perform what you promise.  Likewise, having a more limited set of options, while it limits your freedom of action, also makes you better and more practiced (and deeper) in your understanding of those more limited tools at your disposal.  Sure, you will not be able to lie very well, but you will become very skilled at using truth.  The disadvantages are on the surface, but the deeper and more important matters provide advantages that counterbalance the apparent weaknesses on the surface.

So, in examining the difference between the superficial weakness of God (and, by extension those who are godly and who are developing the righteous character of God within them) and the profound strength of God and the godly, we may understand that part of the difference in perspective between the two seeds of God and Satan [2] is the difference between the focus on the physical and the deeper knowledge of the spiritual.  Nonetheless, being attentive to the disagreement between surface appearances and deeper reality is important for those of us that wish to show the wisdom of God rather than exhibit the foolishness of man, requiring us to look deeper than the surface and train our minds and discipline our habits properly, as a good soldier in the army of our God.

Having already viewed the strength and weakness of God, let us examine the aspect of wisdom and folly.  As it is extremely unwise to consider God a fool [3], let us examine some aspects of God’s dealings with mankind that might seem on the surface to be foolish and then briefly touch on the deeper wisdom of those dealings.  What are the ways that God’s actions with mankind appear to be weak?  And what are the ways in which Satan’s form of government appears strong?

The most obvious place to examine this conundrum is to look at Matthew 20:25-28.  Here Jesus contrasts two forms of government.  God’s government is servant leadership [4], where those who lead seek to improve the capabilities of those they serve.  Satan’s government (also called the government of the Gentiles) is where leaders lord it over others and expect to be served.  God’s leadership appears weaker because it is less hierarchial and because the concern is on the well-being of the lowest levels and not the glory and dignity of those at the top.  Satan’s government appears stronger because it is more rigidly stratified and because a satanic leader has despotic and tyrannical control, looks strong, and holds massive amounts of power.  On the surface it would seem foolish that God, whose wisdom is so much greater than man, would let mankind be free to decide for himself (though not free to pass of responsibility for those choices:  Deuteronomy 30:19-20), while Satan (and those who follow his example) shows his ‘strength’ by being a macho-light man and bullying those under him.  But only on the surface.

What is the deeper and more profound wisdom that God possesses by leading as a self-sacrificial servant or through intervening indirectly through divine providence in the lives of believers [5] rather than running roughshod and doing things directly and more effectively Himself?  What is the wisdom of servant leadership and the folly of tyranny and hierarchy?  For one, the goal of God is to create beings capable of leadership and judgment, capable of enforcing and adjudicating based on His law and standards.  To be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation it requires that believers have discernment and wisdom and the capability to think and act without direct supervision according to their character [6].  On the other hand, Satan longs for control and domination, and his goal is to make those who follow him absolutely incapable of independent thought and action so they are completely dependent on him.  Likewise, satanic governments (in the family, church, business, or civil society) are likewise based on control and domination at the top (the father, the boss, the pastor or pastor general or pope, the president or king or emperor or Caesar), and the horror at underlings developing the capacity and longing for freedom of thought and action.  Of course, the weakness of this is the inability of anything to be done without being done from the top down.  People who can act on their own do not need to ask permission or require authorization for everything, but can think and act for themselves according to a recognized set of biblical standards.

Though vastly more can and will be said about this subject in the future, let us close our discussion for today by noting some of the more salient features of the difference between the superficial appearance and deeper reality of the weakness and foolishness of God.  For one, the superficial weakness of being good and being obedient to a moral code is a strength when it comes to trust and reliability (Satan’s house divided being an unreliable one due to selfishness and mistrust) as well as the practice of excellence.  Likewise, the apparent folly of God in working indirectly and in serving rather than in dominating and controlling as Satan does is vindicated by the wisdom of God’s desire to train up capable and wise judges to be a part of his government, while Satan wishes to control and dominate things for himself, and make others incapable of rational and independent thought and action.  The wisdom of servant leadership and the folly of authoritarianism then becomes more plain.  Let us therefore strive ourselves to show the weakness and folly of God, and not the weakness and folly of man, for the weakness of God is far stronger than man, and the foolishness of God is far wiser than man.

[1] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/does-god-keep-his-law-a-novel-application-of-cs-lewis-trilemma/

[2] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/the-biblical-origin-of-war-genesis-315-and-the-two-seeds/

[3] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/matthew-5-21-22-the-problem-of-contempt-2/

[4] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/03/05/some-thoughts-on-christ-like-leadership/

[5] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/divine-providence-in-the-story-of-naaman-the-syrian/

[6] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/02/02/are-you-unworthy-to-judge-a-commentary-and-modest-proposal-on-1-corinthians-6-1-11/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Biblical Art of War, Biblical History, Christianity, Church of God, History and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 1 Corinthians 1:25: Even The Weakness Of Our God

  1. Pingback: Book Review: No One Sees God | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: Redefining Leadership | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Book Review: The Corinthian Catastrophe | Edge Induced Cohesion

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