The first three chapter of 1 Corinthians contain a lot of talk about being foolish. Of course, it’s not simply about being foolish for it’s own sake, but being willing to exchange the wisdom of the world around us for the wisdom of God, which is generally held to be foolish.
Today ‘s reading picks up on the idea of the foolishness of following after human leaders. That is, of attaching our worth to who it is we are connected to. As the end of this section remind readers, everything is ours through Christ. While leaders may provide us with guidance and teaching, there is nothing of a value-added nature that arises from the leader themselves. It is the leadership we should imitate, not the leader.
When reading this, I find it turning in on me. For if the followers of Christ are meant to follow Christ and not the leaders of the communities to which they belong, it is doubly true that those of us who are leaders need to make sure that we are not encouraging people to follow us.
There is an old joke about a bishop who is approached by a young priest. The priest is very nervous and mumbles and stutters, and eventually gets out his request. He is preaching on humility and wants to know if the bishop can recommend any books. At which point, the bishop turns to him, pulls himself up to his full height and says, “There is only one book on the subject, and I wrote it.”
It becomes far too easy for any of us as leaders to want to make sure that people know our opinions, to let people know what we think on any subject or how we think people should behave in any situation. The good leader in any Christian community is one who when asked about humility, for example, is able to point their questioner to Christ and his humility.
One of the reasons that we need the reflective time in Lent is these things seem simple in theory but so difficult in practice.
Today we must pray to make ourselves more foolish.