In the book of Acts we’re told of a time when Paul the Apostle preached to a group of high powered intellectuals in Athens, Greece. As Paul was speaking to these highly educated people, he touched upon the subject of Jesus’ resurrection.
This subject brought a response that couldn’t have been very encouraging to Paul for Acts 17:32 tells us, “…when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, “We will hear you again on this matter.” In other words, their response to Paul was “Uh yeah, Paul, sure… uh, we’ll talk to you later.”
It seems that these people thought that Paul’s Biblical teaching sounded a bit foolish and maybe even a little ridiculous. It’s as if they were saying, “Paul, come on- you’re telling us that a guy who claimed to be God came down and saved the world by dying? Where’s the power in that? You expect us to believe that?!?” Of course, this response is not much different than the response that many people make to the Gospel today.
Why do people reject God’s plan of salvation? Do they reject it because it just doesn’t seem reasonable, as the intellectuals of Paul’s day seemed to feel? Well, take a look at part of a letter that Paul wrote to his friends in the town of Corinth where he talks a little more about this subject…
“I know very well how foolish it sounds to those who are lost, when they hear that Jesus died to save them. But we who are saved recognize this message as the very power of God. For God says, ‘I will destroy all human plans of salvation no matter how wise they seem to be, and ignore the best ideas of men, even the most brilliant of them.’
So what about these wise men, these scholars, these brilliant debaters of this world’s great affairs? God has made them all look foolish and shown their wisdom to be useless nonsense. For God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never find God through human brilliance, and then he stepped in and saved all those who believed his message, which the world calls foolish and silly” (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).
Because God is all-powerful, He has the ability to accomplish things in ways that no one can anticipate. But because God’s methods don’t always seem to make sense to us, people often reject them and call them foolish. But are God’s methods really as foolish as some people believe they are?
Think about this for a moment: how do most people make decisions? Well, most people go through some pretty basic steps in the decision making process. They look at the available information, they consider how they feel, they might ask others for advice, they see if they have a “gut instinct” and then they make their decision.
Now here’s the real question: Do people always have all the information that they need to make the right decision all the time? Well, if we were to answer that question honestly, we’d really have to say no. The truth is that we rarely have all the information we need to make any decision.
Because we don’t always have access to 100% of the information we need to make decisions, we’re often forced to make decisions based on the information we have available to us at the time. Later on as more information becomes known, the wisdom or foolishness of a particular decision eventually reveals itself. This is why people often say things like, “If I only knew then what I know now…” after making a bad decision.
The fact is that the best we could ever really hope for is to have most of the information necessary to make a good decision. The only way to make better decisions is to have all of the information necessary but there is only one Being who has all the information. That Being, of course is God. This is an important point because it helps us understand why God seems to do things in ways that sometimes seem to be a little unusual.
Because we only have a limited amount of information, we sometimes look at what God is doing and say, “Why are you doing that, God? I just don’t understand why you’re doing the things you are doing in my life. Why did things have to happen the way they did?”
But if we could “peek over God’s shoulder,” so to speak and have access to the things that He knows, then we would find every one of His actions to be totally reasonable and understandable. If we could see the same “big picture” that God sees, we would never have to ask, “why?” But because we don’t have all the information that God has, sometimes His decisions appear to be strange or even foolish.
The good news is that this situation won’t last forever. The Bible tells us that the day is coming when God’s people will see Him face to face. At that time, we will have total access to God Himself! When that happens, we will understand everything clearly and everyone’s questions will be completely satisfied. 1 Corinthians 13:12 explains it this way…
“In the same way, we can see and understand only a little about God now, as if we were peering at his reflection in a poor mirror; but someday we are going to see him in his completeness, face to face. Now all that I know is hazy and blurred, but then I will see everything clearly, just as clearly as God sees into my heart right now.”
While we don’t know everything that God knows, one thing we do know is that God always has our best interests in mind even when we don’t understand why things happen the way they do (see Jeremiah 29:11). This is one reason why Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight” (NIV).
We may not have all the information we need whenever we need it right now but it sure helps to know Someone who does.