Wise foolishness

Faith & Inspiration

It is overwhelming to be a Christian in times like these. We face the catastrophe in Aurora, Colo., the mess in State College, Pa., and the forthcoming presidential race that appears likely to be a bloodbath, an economic downturn, and numerous other crises national and international and personal. And not a single one of these can be ignored. We must respond lest we fail to represent the care and mind of Jesus for His creation, but to respond well seems like a nearly impossible task.

What is more, the message of hope, the foundation of our faith is nonsense to so many. As 1 Corinthians 1:18 says, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those are perishing …" (NKJV). So here we are seeking to wisely and sagely respond to life-shattering crises, yet we are reminded that the very basis of our entire belief system is but foolishness to the majority of those we are seeking to help. How are we to respond?

Well, I can tell you how we are not to respond. Believing in what is labeled "foolishness" by the world is not license to act the fool, and I don't even mean the Westboro Baptist brand of fool (that's something else entirely unbiblical). Sometimes it seems believers assume that since we are promised rejection we may as well act like rejects. So we settle for the foolishness of trite responses, pat answers, and Bible verse Band-Aids. We proffer blunt, hard truth when tenderness is called for, or we pussyfoot around when boldness is needed. Simply because the message of the cross is foolishness to many does not give us an excuse to cease thinking about what we say, when we say it, and who we say it to.

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How do we attract people to a message of foolishness? The short answer is "love," bold, clear, timely acts of love. This love expresses itself through reason and balance, an avoidance of acerbic polemics. It is shown in our awareness of context, milieu, and the intimate realities of life around us. To seal it, our love must be exhibited in excessive patience and forbearance. We come into every interaction knowing our base beliefs are foolishness and folly. We should expect the haters and skeptics to come, and when they do we respond with acts of love, with reason and balance, and with keen awareness of their circumstances and beliefs. We respond as thinkers, not reactors.

People need the message of foolishness that we hold so dear. We are called to win them to it by our love in action, love in speech, love in reason, and love in attitude. But even that seems frail in the face of catastrophe and extreme brokenness. And so, above all, we must remember that the foolishness of God, that same foolishness to which we cling, is wiser than the wisdom of men. It is enough, and more.

Barnabas Piper
Barnabas Piper

Barnabas works for Lifeway Christian Resources and is the author of The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity and Help My Unbelief: Why Doubt Is Not the Enemy of Faith. He and his wife live in the Nashville area with their two daughters. Follow Barnabas on Twitter @BarnabasPiper.


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