I have had a friend in ministry since 1987 named Tony. He is more than 15 years my senior, and he made some unconventional choices in the 1990’s: he participated in watered-down apple juice-only fasting for several periods of 25 days, he carried a 16” yoke everywhere he went for a long period of time and he shaved his head, in the winter. (He did the shaving long before it was fashionable.) He did each of these out of obedience to God, directed by strong promptings he sensed from God in each case. And with each act he usually did not have an understanding of why God was asking him to take that step. He carried that yoke everywhere, and there was no hiding it.
Each of these actions could be considered foolish. Indeed, most people would consider them foolish choices, or that he was a few slices short of a full loaf. But Tony was willing to be foolish, in his obedience to God. This was much like King David as he danced quite foolishly when the Ark was brought into his city. Both David and Tony did so, perhaps quite foolishly, but joyfully and obediently to God.
On Sunday as we pushed further into our series from 1 Corinthians on “Deep Living in a Shallow Culture.” Our focus was on Paul’s dogged attention to and interplay between the notion of the wisdom of this world and the foolishness of God. If you missed it, you can listen to it here… simply put, the Apostle Paul plants his flag on God’s foolishness every time and he invites you and me to do the same.
Let me explain further – we understand strength and power and influence in this world: be bigger, stronger and superior. It is proven in most all cultures, that is how you stay on top. Success is the clear way forward in this life and greatness is the route to the top. But, as Christ followers, we are beckoned to let go of our confidence in these messages around us that call for us to go the routes of conventional wisdom. God’s approach, a very vastly different approach, is summed up well in Isaiah 55: “My ways are not your ways, neither are my thoughts your thoughts, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the Earth. So are my ways higher than your thoughts, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
But God’s ways and God’s thoughts are very often considered pure foolishness. There is no place that there is a greater contrast of our wisdom and God’s wisdom than in God’s greatest act of love and foolishness of all time. And singer songwriter Michael Card in El Shaddai sums much of that up: “Through the years you’ve made it clear; that the time of Christ was near; though the people failed to see; what Messiah ought to be. Though your Word contained the plan; they just could not understand; your most awesome work was done, through the frailty of your son.” That work of Jesus was done in walking this earth and then dying on that cross.
And that story, is complete scandal, is utterly shocking, and yes, foolishness. That is the essence of what Paul refers to when he says, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” Paul invites you and me to hang our hats on that lavishly foolish act of God in the giving of his son, the creator of all things, to restore us to himself.