At the Crossroads of Wisdom
I. A human TENDENCY and Divine WISDOM. (1:10-4:21)
A. ELEVATION by means of DIVISION. (1:10-17)
B. The WISDOM of the FOOLISH cross.(1:18-31)
C. PAUL as a prime EXAMPLE. (2:1-5)
D. A radically DIFFERENT type of WISDOM. (2:6-16)
E. The deep ROOTS of the DIVISIONS. (3:1-23)
F. Paul’s ROLE as an APOSTLE. (4:1-21)
Today we jump into a huge section of text. Over 1900 words. But there really is one theme that runs through all of it. Paul is showing how the actions of the Corinthians are the result of a poor choice in regards to the wisdom by which they are choosing to live their lives. We need to start by mapping the whole section in order to see how the pieces relate to the whole.
1. Kid’s question: Have you ever had an argument with a good friend? What happened?
2. In what ways has the cross been “sanitized” today? What does the symbol actually mean?
3. How have you seen God’s way of doing things look radically different than the usual way things go in society today?
II. TAKING this letter to HEART. (Ps 119:11)
A. Our LIFE displays our choice of WISDOM. (3:3-4)
B. The WISDOM of the WORLD… (1:20,25; 2:6; 3:19)
1. …leads to DISSENSION and ARROGANCE. (1:10-11; 3:3-4,18; 4:7-8,18)
C. The WISDOM of GOD… (1:30; 2:7)
1. …Leads to HUMILITY and UNITY. (1:26-31; 3:16-17)
D. God’s wisdom is EMBODIED in the CROSS. (1:18-24; 2:2) Lives of WISDOM are “CRUCIFORM.” (2:1-5)
These are just issues that the Corinthians needed guidance on, they are relevant today. The world presents us with a choice in regards to the way we live our lives. It’s not overt, but subtle. It consists of underlying answers to the questions of what makes for the good life? What is important in this world? What am I living for?
4. “Our life displays our choice of wisdom.” When have you seen that to be true?
5. When you evaluate you and your close acquaintances are those relationships prone to dissension and arrogance or humility and unity? Why?
6. We tend to pursue knowledge. How is wisdom different from that?
7. What does it look like to pursue wisdom? How can you tell if you have it (or don’t)?
8. In what ways might God be calling you to live life in a more “cruciform” manner? How might that look this coming week?
“We try to fend off this world we yearn for where men live together as brothers because there is something in each of us that wants to live not for his brother but for himself. We fend it off because we know in our terrible wisdom that the price we must pay for it is death, the death of self and all the values of self, the death that must take place before the life can come.”
― Frederick Buechner, The Magnificent Defeat