We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Nice phrase, right?
We, Christians, usually assume that it means something like this. If you, Jews and Gentiles, think that Christ is a failure and a fraud, you’re wrong. He really is powerful, wise, and successful, only he’s chosen to hide it for the time being. Those “in the know” (i.e., us) understand this. And, at some point, you’ll discover that we’re right – only it might be too little, too late.
Except that the ancient Jews and Gentiles – and the modern non-Christians and atheists – have got it right. Think about it. As a man or as a god, this Christ of ours is a failure and a fraud.
…He gets himself killed...Let’s look at his career as a man. Put aside all those miracle stories for a moment (come on, they were written by his followers), and what are we left with? He’s born in a tiny backwater of the Roman empire. Rumor has it that his mom is no better than she should be. He’s poor as a mouse, probably barely literate, works as a shepherd or a carpenter. For reasons unknown, he abandons his job, leaves his hometown, and becomes, more or less, a freeloader. He wanders around mooching off people, hangs out with questionable rabble, says delusional things about himself. He’s surrounded by equally delusional or just downright miserable, despairing folks who are basically just grasping at straws (maybe their child is ill, maybe they’re fed up with the Romans taking their money). His family thinks he’s insane. All the right-minded, respectable people think he’s a charlatan or worse. So he wanders around, continues to make crazy claims, breaks the laws (granted, we may think those laws are strange, but still), finally gets some influential people sufficiently upset, and, you know, gets himself killed. I mean, literally – he gets himself killed. He does everything to get himself killed. And then the band of crazies that went around with him tells everyone that he’s no longer dead. That he’s risen – whatever that means. Show him to us, then, you say. No – apparently, you just have to trust this. Yeah right.
…Do you feel this big, gaping hole in your life without him?...Let’s look at his career as a god. First of all, what kind of god gets himself killed? And, more annoyingly, what kind of god – after he does everything to provoke you to kill him – comes to you and says that it’s really all your fault? A pretty bloody joke, no? Ok, but he also says that he saved you. From what? Do you feel this big, gaping hole in your life without him? No. In fact, he comes to you and says that you do have this big, gaping hole, and only he can fill it. Really? That sounds like an infomercial. Ok, you ask him, what is this hole? Well, you are screwed up, and your world is screwed up. All right, you tell him, I’ll buy this. There is something in what you say. So… So everything pretty much still continues as before. You’re screwed up. The world is screwed up. But I will return soon, he says, and everything will be well. Yet he doesn’t. What happens is that his crazy band of followers gets organized, acquires some state support, and, if anything, adds to the world’s mess. But he will return soon, they say. Yet he still doesn’t. Are you surprised that his followers are not doing well right now? I’m not. And I’m not sure what this “salvation” he offers is, but many people who believe in it still lack some basic things. You know, food, water, shelter, safety…
What’s my point? Oh, only that this failure of a man, this fraud of a god is foolish, weak, and laughable. Really. The Jews and the Gentiles are right.
If I trust him because I think he’s wise, strong, and majestic – I’m thinking about someone else.
So why do I – still – trust him?
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