Foolishness! The dictionary says that foolishness is a lack of good sense; it is stupidity. Synonyms include imbecility, inanity, imprudence, and a host of other words speaking to thoughtlessness. The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church and said, “. . .we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness.” (I Cor. 1:23)
Over the weekend I received a host of comments from the followers of another religion, all of whom lived in a culture very different from Western Civilization (Not Islam). I could comment on some of the things from my perspective that are a part of their everyday life which I would consider foolish, and even insane, but that is not my point today.
Some spoke of the ridiculous nature of worshipping someone that was nailed to a “stick”, as they put it. Others spoke of the post resurrection appearances of Jesus as a zombie.The comments carried with them much more than ridicule. There was an underlying tone of anger.
Paul spoke of how man elevates his thoughts and calls them wisdom. But God, says Paul, “has made foolish the wisdom of this world.” (I Cor. 1:20)In fact, this missionary says that God was pleased to choose a methodology that the world might indeed describe as foolish (preaching the Gospel)to be the means by which salvation could come. Ultimately he declares, “The foolishness of God is wiser than men.” (I Cor. 1:25) I anticipate that proclaiming that message brings “amens” from believers, and only more scorn from those that see it as foolish.
Increasingly around our world followers of Christ are discovering the cost of proclaiming that message brings persecution and maybe even martyrdom. After posting a note to Facebook calling on people to pray for a particular country to hear the Gospel, I received all kinds of threats. Some offered to remove certain male body parts; others even death, and a number of other man contrived ways to induce suffering.
My point? The Gospel is offensive. We cannot apologize for that offense. We can do all we can not to be offensive in our words and actions. But in the end, how willing are we to live out the full implications of obedience to Christ? The cost of following Jesus is quite different from the health and wealth message of so many offering “your best life now” kinds of messages. From the viewpoint of those that the Holy Spirit has not brought conviction of the truth to, the message of the cross remains foolishness.
And for some reason, threatening.