1 Corinthians 4:10, “We are fools for Christ’s sake.”
In the old country there is a saying, that since the dead can’t speak, sometimes we have to speak for the dead. I know it sounds creepy, but there is good reason for me mentioning this. It would seem in the estimation of some so called progressive Christian thinkers, that all the martyrs of the past, including the eleven Apostles that died violent deaths, the countless Christians that expired at the hands of Nero in various ways from being dipped in tar, and lit like torches, or devoured by animals, were not fools for Christ, but merely fools.
To this day persecution is a reality that many Christians throughout the world are being confronted with, some even being called to martyrdom, and those leading the charge of what has become a worship of philosophy or a set of ideals rather than the person of Jesus, are dismissing their sacrifice, as nothing more than the ignorance of ignorant men who were not willing to go along to get along.
In the eyes of these new progressive thinkers, if you believe in the preeminence, sovereignty, divinity and exclusivity of Christ being the one and only way into the Kingdom of God, then you are a fool worthy of pity, if not outright ridicule.
No, men such as Paul, Peter, John and Luke were not fools for Christ; they were just fools who held to their beliefs so ardently that they died for what they believed in. This is the new face of progressive Christianity, wherein the martyrs of old, and those that are suffering for the cause of Christ, are no longer respected or looked up to, but discounted and mocked as being some throwback to the olden days when men would draw a line in the sand and say with conviction, ‘this far, no further.’
Spirituality and Christianity are being redefined, so much so that spiritual maturity is now measured by how understanding, tolerant and all embracing one is of sin, rather than how committed and steadfast they are in Christ.
We no longer believer that friendship with the world is enmity with Christ, not really, because if we did, we would stop throwing ourselves at the world hoping it would take notice, we would stop flirting with those who hate God, we would stop lowering the bar and dismantling the Word of God just so we don’t come across as offensive, or intolerant. If one were to say to me that the primary goal of the modern church is to please Jesus, I would have the audacity to laugh in their face!
We have talked ourselves into believing that the path of least resistance is always the better path, that confrontation or the expression of contrasting opinion is somehow sinful, and goes against the nature of God, which is after all love. We have spiritualized indifference, we have spiritualized apathy, and we think ourselves better Christians, more spiritual and enlightened when our opinion is to have no opinion, when marching along with the rest of the world toward a sure and tragic end is the accepted denominational line.
‘Don’t make waves’ this is the cry heard round the country from many a pulpits. ‘Jesus understands your lack of conviction, Jesus understands your lack of boldness and courage, just sit there and listen to my latest sermon series on how to overcome your urge to binge eat, and throw your tithe check in the bucket as the ushers pass by your pew.’
For fear of being labeled fools for Christ, for fear of the world seeing us in an unflattering light, we’ve become experts at playing the ostrich, sticking our heads in the sand hoping nobody spots us, hoping we don’t come under fire, hoping no one thinks ill of us.
One need look no further to see the glaring disconnect between true men of God, and what passes for a man of God today, than to do a resume comparison between any of the major preachers of today, with the life of Paul.
In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul does not boast of his private jets, his mansions, his multimillion dollar book deals, but rather he boasts in his tribulations, in the fact that five times he received forty stripes minus one from the Jews, three times he was beaten with rods, once he was stoned, three times he was shipwrecked, and he spent a night and a day in the deep. Paul then continues to share his heart, informing the church in Corinth that often he went hungry, often he was in peril from robbers, often he was weary, and thirsty, and cold and naked. At the end of his journey this man of God is said to have been beheaded in Rome by none other than the aforementioned Nero.
Yet such men are no longer seen as a worthwhile model, they are not seen as those we ought to emulate, because in our butterfly and rose petal view of the world, such men are shocking to behold.
Our prosperity has made us cowards; we have come to love the things we posses more than we love Jesus, and are unwilling to stand for truth for fear of losing all the stuff we’ve amassed. What we fail to see, what we so readily overlook, is that the enemy is more than willing to offer us material possessions, and abundantly so, if he can keep us from being fools for Christ, if he can keep us from proclaiming the message of the cross, and the Lordship of Jesus.
“What me suffer need? What me go hungry? What me be beaten for Christ? What me be put in prison for my beliefs? No sir, not I, why resist the world when resistance is by and large futile? Why stand against sin, why proclaim righteousness when nobody listens anymore anyway? No sir, not I, I am not a martyr, I am a survivor. I am no fool; I am wise in my understanding!”
1 Corinthians 3:18-20, “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness’, and again, ‘the Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”
It’s bad enough when others deceive us; it is exponentially worse and more detrimental to the spiritual man however, when we deceive ourselves. Self deception shackles us, and fastens us to the notions we’ve appropriated, because although it is easy to point at others and call them fools, it is far more difficult to look in the mirror and utter the word.
There is one sure remedy for self deception, and that remedy is for us not to be wise in our own eyes. The admonition of Paul is that if we seem to be wise in this age, if we see ourselves as wise, then we must become a fool that we might be wise indeed.
To be a fool for Christ is to be empty of oneself, and allow Jesus to fill us with His Spirit, power, authority and purpose. When we come to that place in our walk with God, wherein we can say ‘not my will but Your will be done’ then we have officially become fools for Jesus, and as such will be ridiculed, maligned, and mocked by a world which cannot comprehend the beauty of Christ because they do not know Him.
We should also take into account the times we are living in, and realize that we must choose now, whether we will be fools for Christ, or cowardly men who would compromise the truth for the most selfish of reasons.
The freedoms we’ve taken for granted in this country can now be seen in the rearview of our daily existence, and whether we want accept it or not, whether we want to believe it or not, worse is coming. The day is coming when we will have to choose between our lifestyle and Jesus, between our possessions and Jesus, perhaps our very lives and Jesus. We must commit to the course we will endeavor to pursue now, and purpose in our hearts that we will be faithful to that course, rather than wait until it’s too late. May we be wise in our choosing!
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.