Fools for Christ

There’s a pretty easy way to determine what a per­son really cares about in life. Just answer the question, “What is he willing to look foolish for?”

Strong devotion to a cause can make people do things that otherwise would embarrass them. How else to explain people at a football game with painted faces or giant hats shaped like a wedge of cheese? They really want to support their team, and they don’t mind looking a bit ridiculous to do so.

For several years, my wife and I worked with the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. In that time I saw grown men in grass hula skirts, local officials in the dunking booth, and people doing the hokey-pokey at 2:00 a.m., all to raise money for cancer research and patient programs. They did all those silly things because they felt the cause was worth a little indignity.

Now, if a person will gladly do goofy things for a sports team or a charity or a kids’ summer camp, why will that same person avoid speaking up in a religious discussion at work for fear of embarrassment? Why will he cave in to peer pressure for fear that others will think him strange if he resists? Could it be that Christ really doesn’t mean that much to him?

Paul, speaking of himself and the other apostles, wrote, “…we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake…” (1 Corinthians 4:9-10). No, the Lord has not asked us to don funny costumes or play silly games in His honor. He has simply asked us to serve Him. But if we do that, it will be enough to make people re­gard us as a spectacle of foolishness.

Of course, some religious folks seem to prefer the funny costumes and silly games. Some time ago I visited a nursing home where residents were being en­tertained by a group from some area church. Dressed in hillbilly overalls and strange hats, playing homemade instruments and singing goofy songs, the group called themselves “Jugheads for Jesus.” That is hardly what Paul had in mind when he said, “We are fools for Christ’s sake.” Paul and the rest were not being ridi­culed for providing entertainment or recreation. (Just as in our day, the world probably would have applauded them for that.) No, they were proclaiming the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Savior. They were calling on people to turn from idola­try, immorality, and ignorance, and surrender to Jesus’ lordship. They had sacrificed everything for Him. And for this, Paul said, they had become “a spectacle.” His picture is that of prisoners of war, condemned to execu­tion, being led in a public procession. For their selfless devotion to Christ, Paul and others like him were regarded by many as “the scum of the world” (verse 13). It was just as Jesus had said it would be: the same world that hated Him also hated His disciples (John 15:18-19).

If you simply stand up for the truth and live a godly life, some people will think you’re a fool. They may ridicule you if you sacrifice other interests to put the Lord first. If you choose to miss a ball game rather than a Wednesday night Bible study. If you trim a luxury ex­pense from your budget rather than cut back on your giving. If you leave the party instead of indulging in alcohol or lustful conduct. If you defend your convic­tions instead of keeping quiet. In the eyes of some folks, such things will make you laughably foolish.

So here’s the question: If you would gladly look a little foolish for your favorite team or your favorite so­cial cause, how willing are you to be thought a fool for Christ’s sake?