For God's foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God's weakness is stronger than human strength. - 1 Corinthians 1:25
When I was a teenager, I was not allowed to swear. So when I was really mad, I had to choose alternate words that had equal power to insult and infuriate. The word I chose was "fool."
"You're a fool," I would say, with my lip curled and my eyes rolled.
And my mother would hit the roof every time. "You can't say that to me," she would say.
"Why not? It's just another word in the English language."
My nasty tone made the word "fool" sting a lot more than a swear word. The word "fool" has many layers of hurt to it. It implies stupidity, hopelessness and mocking disdain.
So that is why Paul was so brilliant to turn the word on its head. He said that what we think of as foolishness might be Godliness. The person we call a fool may be the wise one. And Christ works through the ones the world calls foolish.
I was so sure, at the time, that my teenage disdain was wisdom. But now that my mother lives with God in the seat of wisdom, I wish I could take every sneering, disdainful expression back. I was the fool, not her.
Now as a parent I understand the message of the cross a little better. We bear a lot of pain in the name of love. When people tell us we are foolish, we keep on loving them.
As Christians, we do that for one another, in order to remember that God is doing it for us.
Guard our harsh tongues and critical thoughts, so that we do not dismiss as foolish the ones you have chosen to show your love.
Lillian Daniel's new book Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don't Belong To: Spirituality without Stereotypes, Religion without Ranting is now available for purchase, but you can hear it all for free at 1st Congregational Church of Dubuque, Iowa.