When one of my co-workers asked me about the purpose of my life, I told her that I wanted serve God. Her jaw dropped.
“You want to do what? You seriously want to do that?”
I nodded a nervously, realizing I must sound a bit like a fool.
“You mean you don’t want a good career, a beautiful wife and lots of money?”
“Not really. There’s more to life than that, I think.”
She couldn’t believe it.
Understanding Christianity is easy for me. Maybe it is because I have been a Christian for as long as I can remember. In any case, I’ve come to realize that understanding Christianity is not nearly as easy for those who have not been brought up in a Christian environment. To me, when someone tells me that they want to live for Christ, it’s like them telling me that they want to continue eating to stay alive. It’s just a normal thing to me. Unfortunately, I seldom take the time to stop and think about how Christianity must look to others.
Christianity must appear strange to those who are not Christians. People are grabbing for recognition and wealth, looking to take whatever they can to get on top of things and be happy. That, by the world’s definition, is success. However, we live for something altogether different. We do not live to take. We do not live to see how much we can gain. On the contrary, life for the Christian is essentially about giving. It’s not about us—we present our very lives as living sacrifices to Christ. We are concerned not with what we can get out of life, but instead, we are concerned about what God can get out of us. Christianity says that a man must lose his life in order to find it. We are aliens in a culture where everything is about the self.
We must look like a bunch of fools! I have to admit; sometimes I am apprehensive about telling the truth when people ask, “What do you want to accomplish in your life?” Everyone has his or her life all laid out—“I want to get married, have kids, work this career.” Me, I say, “Um … I want to follow God, and I don’t know what that will mean for me in the future.” How foolish that must sound to people who believe life is only about “individual fulfillment” and accomplishment! The apostle Paul knew what he was talking about when he said, “The message of the cross sounds foolish to those who are on the road to destruction.”
The hope we have as Christians looks absurd to others. We base the whole of our lives on the belief that God came down as a man two thousand years ago. We believe that this man epitomized holiness; furthermore we believe that this man was crucified because of our sins. If that isn’t enough, we believe that he rose from the dead a couple of days after he died, and that He now sits at the right hand of God the Father in heaven. It must seem like foolishness indeed, especially in a culture where many have chosen to deny all things spiritual. How, people wonder, can the life and death of man who walked the earth two thousand years ago be relevant to anyone?
We answer that question with the way we live our lives. Again, we don’t live for ourselves—we follow in the footsteps of Christ, giving our lives for Him and others. People see that, and wonder. They begin to see a connection between the Man we talk about and the things we do. They see that, unlike many who are helping people just to gain recognition, we are helping people because we are the Body of Christ to a hurting world. When we pursue and love God with humble hearts, people notice.
The Message of the Cross is indeed foolishness, but God has used the foolish to shame the “wise.” We carry this message of absurdity, but the beautiful thing is that when we share this absurdity, God’s Holy Spirit takes it and makes sense out of it, opening the eyes of the blind and illuminating the darkened hearts of the lost.
We do not need to be ashamed of giving people this message. It may be awkward to share, and people may or may not respond positively. But it is not our job to make people respond positively. Our job is to play the fool to the world—to share the message that is foolishness to them. We are called to share this message, regardless of whether or not we get laughed at, scorned, mocked or even harmed or killed. We share it in faith that God will do something with it.
And, when He does, we can see that it was worth it to feel foolish for a few minutes while we shared the message of Christ’s death and resurrection. We can see that it was worth it to be mocked by friends. We can see that sharing that message is worth whatever we went through to share it.
It’s worth being a fool.
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