The smartest man ever

I told my friend to ask five questions from 1 Corinthians. Any five. I knew they would be thoughtful. He’s thoughtful. I knew they’d be challenging. He’s new at this following Jesus.

He read, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness.'” (3:19)

He said, “What’s that mean? How do you catch the wise? Aren’t we supposed to be wise?”

One of those two sentences is from Job (the patient man). We looked at it.

He catches the wise in their craftiness,
and the schemes of the wily are swept away.

I said, “You know how Wile E. Coyote is always preparing things to trap the Road Runner, complicated schemes that Wile E. himself gets caught in? That’s the picture that Job’s friend and Paul are both painting. And when each of them are saying ‘the wise’, they are talking about people who think they are wise, who depend on systems of thought that specifically exclude God.”

Dallas Willard talks about Jesus “as the smartest person who ever lived.”  If that’s so, and if He’s God, then the image of trying to make plans without him and being confounded at every turn resonates for me.

I don’t sense Paul talking about a God with with divine smugness like the Road Runner. And he’s not celebrating the exercise of no intelligence. Paul was pretty smart. Advanced degrees in law and theology take brains. Agree with him or not, his writing reflects that intelligence. But Paul’s view of wisdom was shaped by a story of God putting on flesh, walking around, and dying an ignoble death. It looks foolish, unless there is an underlying plan.

Like the dad who plays on the floor with his kids, risking reputation, but unforgettably showing love.

(On a related note, Dena Dyer talks about Jesus’ emotional intelligence: The emotionally intelligent leader.)