Connections 01.29.2023: Wisdom for the Here and Now

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

The city of Corinth was a busy port city where travelers from many places crossed paths. The city’s residents and visitors included educated Greek philosophers and faithful Jewish scholars alongside many other religious groups and ethnic traditions. When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he knew the people in the Christian community there reflected the same diversity of backgrounds and economic levels and social classes as the bustling city around them.

Our modern world may seem impossibly different from first-century Corinth, but somehow this description sounds familiar. We, too, live in towns and cities (of all sizes) with residents and visitors from many backgrounds, and our churches include—or should include—any and all of them. Not to mention the virtual “cities” we belong to, where the technology of the internet makes it possible for people from every walk of life to join together in communities. So when Paul teaches the Corinthian believers about God’s unworldly wisdom, the lesson feels surprisingly modern. The very thing that made the Corinthian church unique in its own hometown still defines—or should define—us today.

The Corinthian world recognized wisdom. To be specific, Paul says, the educated Greek philosopher recognizes wisdom: wisdom is well-spoken, clever, makes logical arguments and wins debates. The faithful Jewish scholar recognizes wisdom: wisdom recognizes the signs and wonders of God and knows the law and keeps the commandments. But Paul says the Corinthian believers need to look for a new kind of wisdom. God’s wisdom is foolishness: the foolishness and powerlessness and weakness and despised-ness of a man on a cross. Paul says God’s wisdom is beyond understanding, at least by those who look only for cleverness and for miraculous signs.

In our time, the world around us recognizes wisdom: wisdom achieves its life goals. Wisdom maintains its appearance. Wisdom has financial security (even better: wisdom makes good investments and turns a profit). Wisdom achieves. Wisdom gets promoted, gets elected, gets famous. I wonder what Paul would say to us, here and now? If God’s wisdom is the opposite of the wisdom of our own world in our own time, what do we miss when we seek achievement, appearances, security, profit, and notoriety from our Christian leaders, church communities, and ourselves?


  • How do you define wisdom? Do you have a different definition for “Christian wisdom” than you do for “secular wisdom”?
  • When you think about the wise choices you have made in your life, what qualities do you recognize in those actions?
  • Have you ever made decisions that you were confident about even though they seemed foolish or weak, or you knew others looked down on them? How did you know that was the right thing to do even though it seemed “unwise”? What was the outcome?
  • How do our churches and Christian communities struggle with the living up to the world’s version of wisdom instead of seeking God’s wisdom?

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is the lead editor of Connections. She is a graduate of Samford University and Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and as a military spouse has had nine (at last count) different hometowns in the past 20 years. She and her husband Scott and sons Sam and Levi live in the Washington D.C. area. In recent years, Nikki has written Smyth & Helwys curricula as well as devotionals for and Baptist Women in Ministry. She weaves clergy stoles, knits almost anything, and dreams of making her dreadful novel drafts into readable books. She blogs about faith and making things at


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