Bizarro World, A Star Trek Episode, and How Our Faith is the Opposite of What the World Glorifies

Posted: June 13, 2015 in 1 Corinthians

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 — This passage brings to mind an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series called “Mirror, Mirror.” In this episode, when Kirk, McCoy, Scotty, and Uhura are beaming back to the Enterprise something happens while they were in transport and they end up on the Enterprise but in some type of alternate universe where the Federation is evil rather than benevolent. Nothing is the same as it should be. Every person, place and thing seems to be the opposite, the antithesis, of what the away team knew to be reality. It was, indeed, bizarro world for them because the things that you count on as good are now evil and that which you knew as evil is now considered good. Opposite to the world they knew.

This concept of the opposites is what Paul is writing about in this passage. It is a theme that dominates his writings throughout the New Testament. The Christian faith is foolishness to those who consider themselves wise by human standards. Also, our faith is a gift so it gives us nothing to boast about in our achievements. God’s ways are not our ways. Therefore, we cannot apply our human standards that are based on the limited knowledge and understanding that we have onto a limitless and eternally wise Creator.

The Christian faith is foolishness to those who are wise by human standards. This crucified and risen Christ seems as foolish to those who have not encountered Him today as it did back in Paul’s day. Our society, today, worships power, influence, and wealth. Just watch television for a little and you will see that. Commercials, reality shows, the news, dramas, movies, all over you see the gathering of wealth as the ultimate end game for us all. But, here we have this Jesus. Jesus came as a humble, poor servant and He offers the kingdom of God to those who have faith, not to those who do all kinds of good deeds to try to earn salvation. To the Jews, they thought the Messiah would come as a conquering king and restore Israel to its former Davidic glory. Jesus had not restored the earthly kingdom of Israel and He was executed as a criminal. How could a criminal be a Savior? The Greeks, too, saw this whole Jesus thing as foolishness as well. They did not believe in bodily resurrection and they did not see the powerful characteristics of their mythological gods and they thought no reputable person would be crucified. To them, death was defeat, not victory. Today, people scoff at our faith because in their minds it flies in the face of reason. The message of Christ’s death is the opposite of what we think we know. Today, we think we are the smartest, most accomplished that mankind has ever been. All this Jesus stuff just seems foolish. Death is considered the end of the road by human wisdom. Death is the ultimate display of human weakness. Jesus’ resurrection shows the power of an almighty God. It demonstrates that God is greater than the things we know in our limited human knowledge to be true. The Christian faith is simple. It requires nothing but the willingness to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He died for our sins, and that He rose from the dead to give us victory over death and the hope of eternal life with His Father in heaven. Man would rather make it more complicated. We need to make it about achieving some oneness with the wisdom of the universe. We want to worship our own achievements. We want to worship our own logic. We want to worship our own freedoms to pursue that we ourselves define as what make me feel good. However, all of these pursuits will ultimately come up empty. They may satisfy for years and years but ultimately they do not give us the meaning that we are searching for. Many today try to debunk our foolish faith and they spend a great deal of time and energy hitting every website, chat room, blog or other social media that has a mention of Christian faith. They do all this hunting down the faith and spend great deals of time picking apart our faith, but yet what is it exactly they are offering in its place. Human wisdom? Worshiping man himself? Just look at the world today. Are we really going to say that worshiping ourselves has produced a better world? They call us foolish. Let me be a fool. Let me be the opposite of what this world desires. Let me believe in my Risen Lord. Let me believe in a God who loves us so much that He sent His Son to reconcile me unto Himself. Let me believe that there is a God who is patiently waiting for us to turn to Him and allowing us the free will to make this world what it is today. Let me believe in a God that will say at some point that time is up and that He will send His Son to set everything straight and make everything right again. It will be in that day that the wisdom of man will seem foolish. If I die before Christ returns, I have faith that there is something more after death. I believe that there is a heaven and hell. I believe that I will spend eternity in heaven with my God because of my faith in the person and work of His Son. When you consider that we know more now in the 21st century than we know in the 20th and the 19th before that, we must admit that we do not know it all. We must admit that our level of knowledge now will seem foolish to those 3 centuries ahead into the future. Why then do you dismiss God as foolishness? Why do you dismiss Jesus Christ as the divine Son of God? Are you willing to bet your eternity on your limited 21st century knowledge? That is the bigger foolishness than this foolish faith in Jesus Christ.

Finally, Paul talks about the fact that our faith is based on what Jesus did for us not on what we can do for ourselves. This seems foolish by human wisdom’s standard. This seems foolish here in America where we have the American Dream. We want our checklists. We want our merit badges. We want there to be 72 levels of achievement in our video games. We want to be able to differentiate ourselves from those around us. We want to stand on top of the heap. But here is this Christian faith that says our salvation is simply a gift because of the work that Jesus has already done on the cross. It does not require that you be an academic professor to get it. It does not require that you progress those stages of enlightenment to get it. It is simple. Come to the realization that you are a sinner destined for an eternity separated from God. Realize that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was a sacrifice to a just God for the sins of man. Believe that His death was atonement for your sins. Ask Him to come into your life and be your Savior and Lord. Believe that He was bodily resurrected from the dead to demonstrate His victory over your sin and your death. Know that you have eternal life through Him. No merit badges to earn. Nothing to do but accept the gift. Human wisdom will not get you into heaven. Human achievements will not get you into heaven. Simple faith does. No one can boast of what they did or continue to do to earn their salvation. It is a gift from God through His Son. We cannot therefore boast that my salvation is better than yours because I have been a Christ follower longer. We can only boast that boast of what Christ has done for us both. We are equal in the faith because we are both sinners saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. Sure, we can develop spiritual maturity at faster and slower rates than one another but none of it would happen without the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Since we cannot boast of achievements, we can easily be united by the thing that binds us, our common faith in Jesus Christ, our common bond of being sinners saved by grace. Seems pretty foolish by the world’s standards by which we want to measure ourselves one against another. But, when we are humbly submitted to God and thankful for the gift He has given us, we no longer have the need to glorify ourselves. There is unity when we work together humbly to give God glory rather than the division that always comes from seeking after our own desires. Let us forget what divides and remember what unites us, Jesus Christ. Let me have that kind of foolishness!

Father in Heaven, you who are almighty and eternally wise far beyond anything that we currently can know and understand, we praise your name for what you have done for us in Jesus Christ. We thank you for sending Him to us to give us eternal life through His sacrifice on the cross. Thank you for our simple faith so that none of us can boast of what we have personally achieved. No personal achievement can supersede that we are dead in sin without the saving grace of someone outside ourselves, Jesus Christ. He is the risen we are reconciled to you. Thank you for Jesus being the humble servant here on earth to show that glory comes to those who seek to do your will and not their own. Thank you for being God whose ways are higher than our ways and whose ways will make the humanly wise seem foolish in the end. Amen.

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