The Foolishness and the Power

Our Holy Tuesday reflection comes from John Bangs (Carnation, WA), director of Fuller Seminary’s Northwest campus. 

The message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God… Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified… For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. (1 Cor 1:18, 22-23a, 25)

Tuesday marks a sobering pause in Holy Week. Headed toward the unmitigated glory of Easter, there is anticipation in the air. For those of us in ministry, it is a busy week rehearsing songs of enthusiastic celebration. Choirs and orchestras swell so we can sing praises that rightly accompany resurrection. But another day lies between now and the springtime celebration this Sunday: that day is Good Friday.

McFall, "Son of Man"
David McFall, “Son of Man” (1988) – Creative Commons (Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

I have heard pastors say that the church should treat every day as Easter — and that people ought to live a glory-filled life every day. This attitude, though, misses an important truth: the difference between triumph and triumphalism — perhaps the defining facet of genuinely Christian living.

Here is that truth: The only way to Easter is via Good Friday. Resurrection cannot happen without death. The way to the Father is the Via Dolorosa.

Jesus lived his life, from baptism to Good Friday, with his eye on the cross. All that he did happened on that downward path. This is the foolishness of the gospel — and it is the power of the gospel. The route to resurrection is the way of the cross. And the normal Christian life is to join Jesus there.

So if you are feeling less than triumphant, and have a cross to bear, know that Jesus has invited you to that place, and that he bears it with you and for you. Let the anticipation of Easter bring hope and joy into your normal Christian life: the way of the cross.

O God, who shamed the wise and strong with what seems foolish and weak,
thank you for the grace that has been given us in Jesus Christ.
(from 1 Cor 1:4, 27)