Faith or Foolishness?

Author | Steve

Am I really acting faithfully, or am I just being plain foolish?

This question has been a frequent visitor all my life, but especially over the last few months. I hate to be irresponsible. More than that, I hate to be perceived as irresponsible.

So much of answering this question has to do with who I am hearing – who I am listening to. All over the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, Jesus says this little phrase, “He who has ears, let him hear.” For the longest time I just thought Jesus had a Yoda-thing going on (I like Yoda too). But the gospels record Him saying this like fifteen times, so I started to take notice. A lot of the instances are tied to parables where Jesus is speaking in metaphors about the Word of God or the cost of discipleship. On one occasion He uses it to talk specifically about Himself as the promised Messiah:

 When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”  Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see:  The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.  Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”  As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind?  If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces.  Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.  This is the one about whom it is written:

“‘I will send my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way before you.’

 Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.  From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.  For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.  And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come.  Whoever has ears, let them hear.

(Matthew 11:2-15)

So back to my question: Am I being faithful or foolish? It seems that the answer has a lot to do with my hearing. Who am I hearing? What actions are arising from my hearing?

Then I came across this doozy from Jesus:

 “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me.  And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form,  nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me,  yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”

(John 5:36-40)

You mean I can study the scripture diligently and miss the whole point? As if I never heard the Father’s voice?

So here I am, sitting in a mostly empty house that will belong to someone else in less than ten days. Our home for the next we-don’t-know-how-long will be our Suburban and good friends and family. I hear the concern in people’s inquiries that trigger my own insecurities: “Aren’t you just being foolish? Irresponsible? Lazy? Stupid?”

But then the Spirit gave me this: What if I actually was hearing Jesus wrong? What if I was not discerning His voice right? Is Jesus the kind of King who is waiting for me to screw it all up so He can nail me to the wall? Or is He the kind of King who delights in restoring His wayward children – whether for outright defiance or for misguided ideas?

We have spent weeks praying to Him, searching His Word, talking and praying with close friends who follow Him too, and we clearly heard Him calling us to do something that appears foolish, but calls on us to trust Him and not our own plans or even what our culture says is prudent and responsible. This brought to mind Peter’s faithful but “foolish” request to come to Jesus on the water. And, it reminds me of this section of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian Church:

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.

(1 Corinthians 1:18-25)

So who’s message will I listen to? Who will I trust?

JESUS’ FAITHFULNESS TO ME IS DRAWING ME FURTHER INTO THE DEEP WATERS OF ‘FOOLISHNESS.’ Deeper into relying on His strength, His wisdom, His sacrifice. For us, right now, it looks like living as wanderers with less possessions, learning that our security and our rootedness is found first and foremost in Him. What does it look like for you where you live? Who are you talking and praying with about this? Who are you following Jesus with while your search His scriptures? Where is Jesus inviting you to faithful foolishness?

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