Sunday, November 15, 2009

To Be A Fool For Christ

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

26 For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; 27 but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; 31 therefore, as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord.”

I think all of us have a fear of drawing attention to ourselves, especially if it leads others to look down on us.  This can be a real challenge for the Christian in a world which tends to disdain the faith.

From the standards of the world, the faith is indeed something that seems foolish.  God becoming man?  Being born of a Virgin?  Being crucified?  Why everyone knows He would have been more successful if He had descended from on High and said "YOU DO WHAT I SAY!" before all the media of the world, right?

Or, more commonly, for the Christian to say that contraception, abortion, divorce and homosexual marriage are wrong things is also something that seems foolish to the world.

Generally, the world thinks we are a pack of fools for believing this sort of thing.

Perhaps this is why many of us stumble when challenged, and say as little as possible.  Certainly I know I have missed some opportunities:

(Scene: I am sitting in a buffet restaurant reading Catholicism and Fundamentalism)

Waitress: What are you reading?

Me: …a book

Waitress: What's it about?

Me: … Well it's about how fundamentalists sometimes misunderstand Catholic teaching

The waitress eventually gets information from me, but it is like pulling teeth, and she probably goes away regretting she started the conversation.  Such is the problem when one worries about what others will say. She was clearly curious, and it might have led to some sort conversation taking place freely sharing the faith.

If we are to be fools for Christ, we need to recognize that what seems to be foolishness to the world is in fact reasonable when understood.  That God did what He did, not on a whim, but to help us to realize we need Him.

We need to stop worrying whether the world thinks we are fools, and to recognize that the wisdom of the world cannot measure up to the wisdom of God.

Not worrying does not mean we Christians can act like jerks, employing the argumentum ad baculum (Appeal to force: Literally appeal to the stick) by saying "convert or burn in Hell!"  As we believe God requires us to love our fellow man, our response is to be one of charity.

Being a fool for Christ does not mean throwing out logic.  I believe the Christian faith is indeed rational.  It does mean realizing that God makes use of our puny works and makes great things out of them.  This means if one has the ability to use logic and reason with those who require it, he or she should put their talents to use for God.  If one can empathize with one who requires it, he or she can make use of those talents too.

None of us Christians are "too dumb" to do the Lord's work.  If God calls us, He knows we can do His work.  Remember the story of Moses in Exodus 4:10-17 where Moses tried to cop a "Send someone else please" attitude.

Being a fool for Christ means we are to trust God in our service to Him, knowing He is who He said He is.

We don't necessarily have to do great things.  But as Mother Teresa once said, "We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love."

Is there anything more repellant and foolish sounding than picking up lepers from the streets and caring for them?  From the perspective of the world, she was a fool… who knows what sort of diseases one could pick up with things like AIDS about?

Yet her foolishness in Christ was wisdom indeed, for she heard God's call and did small things with great love, and these small acts became a great act through Christ.

So when we live in the world as Christians, let us walk in confidence.  Even though the world thinks us fools, let us go forth trusting in the wisdom of God.

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