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The Fool

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” Psalm 14:1 I love that the fool, over and over again in the Bible, isn’t the one who doesn’t get it, who makes questionable decisions, who doesn’t have all their i’s dotted and t’s crossed…but is the one who refuses to let God be God and presumably assumes the role himself or herself. I need that reminder, daily, hourly, even each minute. The fool assumes that God is taking a nap or behind a closed office door or just gone altogether and that the weight of the world rests on his/her (the fool’s) shoulders. The fool whose heart says, “There is no God” forgets that no ruler or servant can undermine or effectively oppose God’s will. The fool’s heart assumes more power over the course of history than it has been given. I have always assumed the one who says in his heart that there is no God is the atheist or the agnostic, but more and more I see that it is me, the “believer” each time I forget that He is reigning and ruling over every detail. When my eyes get so fixed on the brokenness, on the divisions, on the heartbreaks and on the decisions that lie ahead, I quickly believe that I have been left an orphan to survive by own wit and will. I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that! Whatever anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 2 Cor. 11:16-30 You know what I love about this? There is grace even for the fool! Yes, the person and work of Jesus covers even me. And His grace covers those who judge me a fool as well. The Gospel asks me to boast in the things that show my weakness! How counterintuitive is that? Decision making shows my weakness and insecurity. The judgments of others reveal how weak my confidence in Jesus alone really is. The fact that I feel safer as my own defense attorney than walking by faith helps me to see how far my faith has to grow. I like to see. I want to walk by sight with all onlookers seeing just as clearly as I do. In God’s wisdom, walking by sight is not as high of a value for the redemption of both my heart and the whole world.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor. 1:18-31

What God calls wise is just not what seems wise to my inclinations. I prefer “things that are” to “things that are not”. As I mentioned last time, I recoil at weakness and would rather be strong and never shaken…perhaps that is the appeal of stoicism. I don’t want to be a lowly or despised thing nor do I want to take on the stigma attached to what others consider lowly and despised. But He asks me to resist running behind the tree and clothing myself in any covering other than Jesus. And covering myself in Jesus alone actually requires me to admit I am indeed a fool apart from Him.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 1 Cor. 16:23

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