Wednesday, October 26, 2016

1 Corinthians 1:25-27 -- On Weakness and Humility and Choice

"Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;"
1 Corinthians 1:25-27

Sometimes we really think that God has gotten it wrong and we ascribe labels like "foolish" and "weak" to him.  We think that, because he has allowed suffering and death that he couldn't have truly loved.  We think that because he made us weak that he doesn't care about us, or that because of our weaknesses he has abandoned us.  We think that because he loves us that he should let us do whatever we want, and support us in it.  Sometimes we think that if he really loved us that he'd make our lives easier, or give us a million bucks (or a billion... I know we don't always think small).  We feel like God has lost our trust and that we need to look elsewhere.  And all of those things are understandable to think in our lost circumstances, but every one of them is completely false (yes, even the money, sorry).

God is perfect, right?  It's his nature and part of the definition of Godhood. :) As God, even if he were foolish and weak, his dullest attributes would outshine the sun and be stronger and more brilliant than we could possibly comprehend. Sometimes we forget that.  God's plan is also perfect.  It isn't up to God to prove himself to us.  This is *our* proving ground and *our* test, to see if we will live up to our potential.  Not whether we can--we absolutely do have the capacity--but whether we will choose to.  It's an immense act of pure pride to think that we can judge God and decide whether he made the right decision in any circumstance.  He did.  He always does.  It isn't our job to doubt that, it is our job to try and understand that, and figure out why, so that we can grow wiser as well.

I'm definitely not saying we should look around at the world and say, oh yeah, this world is perfect, now let's figure out why.  The world isn't perfect.  Because God grants us free agency he has to allow evil in the world, which is what the whole Adam, Eve, Garden, Tree thing was about.  The Pandora idea of letting evil into the world, but finding, even in that same action, hope.  Lots of things in the world are screwed up, but in that same world there is beauty and love and goodness.  There are a lot of bad things that happen as a side effect of free agency, and yes God could stop them... but only by removing that free agency.  Slavery and lost potential traded for temporary relief from suffering.  If it were up to us in our blindness and lack of context, perhaps we would choose that.  It wouldn't be the first time we've made massively bad decisions. :)  But thankfully it is up to God, and he chooses to tolerate temporary evil in order to give us the gift of agency and potential and eternal life and the possibility of eternal joy.  Let's stop mocking and criticizing that decision, and instead work *with* God to use that agency to choose to make things better.

God chooses to use us and our agency to make the world better rather than taking it away and forcing us all to be well-behaved automatons.  Sometimes that seems like a bad choice to us because we look at the evil in the world and think What can I possibly do?  How could I possibly stop all of this?  But again, God's wisdom trumps ours.  What do the scriptures teach us, if not that one person CAN make a difference?  God gives us weaknesses to teach us, to help us to be humble (Ether 12:27), and he gives us challenges to overcome so that will will learn and grow and become wise and strong.  Many of those things that we've been complaining about are exactly the things that turn us into spiritual superheroes.  Maybe we lose our entire support system and suffer from feelings of abandonment and loneliness.  We can use that and become strong in relying on God and feeling his comfort. Just like bad people can take something cool and use it in bad ways, we can all choose to take the bad things that happen to us and turn them into strength and goodness and hope for the world around us.  To do that, we have to take that gift of humility that God has given us and use it to stop blaming God or the world around us for who we are, and instead use his amazing gifts, and choose to be more.

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