There are two kinds of fools in the Bible. The first is found in Proverbs, and is characterized by a lack of discernment, a distaste for discipline, and a pervasive unteachableness. From God’s perspective that person has no hope and is headed for trouble, difficulties, and eventual judgment. Proverbs admonishes us in the strongest language to do everything we can to avoid being labeled a fool.
But there’s another kind of fool that God esteems. I’m speaking of the person that the world labels a “fool” because of their commitment to the Gospel.
Yesterday morning, our former senior pastor, C.J. Mahaney spoke from 1 Corinthians 3:18-4:5, which begins:
Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise (1 Cor. 3:18).
In other words, we have only two options in this life: to be wise by the wisdom of this age, or to become a fool in the eyes of this world by boasting in the cross of Christ. That doesn’t mean there aren’t many areas where the world might respect a godly Christian. Our culture still thinks of self-control, generosity, and kindness as desirable qualities.
However, when it comes to building our lives on and around the Gospel, the world doesn’t get it. C.J. encouraged us to consider how much of what we do on a Sunday morning looks foolish to the world. We sing songs to a God we can’t see, enthusiastically proclaiming his rule over our lives, singing about his wrath, holiness, and judgment, thanking him for his mercy and kindness toward undeserving rebels. We put our hard-earned money in the offering with a smile on our faces. We eagerly listen to someone explain words that were written thousands of years ago and receive it as authoritative for our lives in the 21st century. And on top of everything, we really think we know more about what’s important than any scholar, scientist, or philosopher who doesn’t acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Yes, there’s no question about it. in the eyes of the world, all that looks pretty foolish. But as I sat there yesterday morning listening to the message, I realized I want to be a greater fool in the eyes of the world. I never want to be what C.J. referred to as a “professional Christian, whose values remain untouched.” I don’t want to be part of a church that unbelievers feel totally comfortable with or find completely reasonable. Our life together must display a power, grace, truth, and love that the world finds incomprehensible.
I want people to see that my decisions, my choices, my values, and my actions are governed by the Good News that my sins are forgiven and I now belong to Christ. I want to be unconcerned about the applause of the world, and live for the audience of One. And when unbelievers say I’m a fool for basing my entire life on the perfect life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ, I want to thank them with all my heart.
May each one of us be more of a fool in the eyes of men, so that we might be wise in the eyes of God, and so that Jesus Christ alone might receive glory through our lives.
I love the old Petra song called “Fool’s Gold” which has a line in it that says, “Some may call me foolish, some may call me odd, but I’d rather be a fool in the eyes of men than a food in the eyes of God!”
Thanks. This is well said and needed.
Brother – thank you for your encouraging words, to be a fool for Christ – not a fool for the world.
I have recently been struggling at work (where I am only in my first ‘qualified’ year as a physiotherapist), finding that keeping up with the workload in ‘out-patients department’ where I am working at the moment, so very difficult.
Hearing a message recently from a good friend hear at Grace Church (Bristol) has reminded me that I am working for God, and that I should be seeking to work well for my managers in order to WORSHIP GOD – not seeking to earn their praise and by doing so worship my self-esteem (or them).
Your reminder has been useful, that whilst non-believers may pin their hopes on looking good in front of their managers, getting promoted and making plenty of cash… us followers of Christ are meant to be ‘fools’ in their eyes… living for Christ alone!
May I grow in the knowledge of this truth.