“For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal 3:26-27.) For many of us this is a very familiar text and rightly so. Many times our focus is on verse 27 that teaches the way into Christ is to put on Christ and that we put on Christ when we submit to Him by immersion. Without doing any injustice to the above truth, I think there is something we miss in verse 26. We are all “sons of God, through faith.” I can submit to immersion seven times over in the River Jordan, but without faith in God’s Grace through Jesus the Christ, immersion will do nothing to remove sin. We must have faith to get in Christ and we must continue to live by faith in Him.
The question we need to answer at this juncture is: What is living by faith? Paul describes our walk as “by faith and not by sight.” (2 Cor 5:7). What does Paul mean? We come to this conclusion: “My faith is that citizenship is in heaven and I am not truly a citizen of this earth. I am a stranger, a pilgrim, and an alien on foreign soil. That being the case I live as a citizen of heaven (for God by faith) while I am here and I cannot let the physical, emotional, and other distractions of my presence here pull me into a false sense of identity.”
Consider as examples some of the characters we meet in the pages of Scripture. The residents of Jericho must have thought Joshua and Israel to be fools for walking around the city once and not laying siege. Those whom Gideon sent home, must have thought Gideon crazy for going up against the Midianite army with only 300 men who thought they could hold water in their hands. The Philistines and the giant from Gath had to laugh when Israel’s chosen champion was a ruddy shepherd boy with a stick and a sling. We know what Job’s wife and friends thought about his trust in God. The enemies of Nehemiah thought that the residents of Jerusalem were out of their minds if they thought they could complete a wall that would stop more than a fax. The king’s yes-men slapped and made fun of Michaiah for speaking the truth to the King. Old Testament heroes of faith stood up against seemingly insurmountable ridicule. Their faith in God made them appear foolish and act foolish in the eyes of those around them. The prophets were no different, they would walk through town unclothed, cut holes in walls and escape the city every night for weeks, and they would argue with kings. These people were out of their minds.
In the New Testament we read about men like Paul. The Epicurean and Stoic philosophers of Greece called Paul a “babbler” (Acts 17:18). A babbler was a noise maker: one who was talking but making no sense. The word carries the idea of a “seed picker” as in one who lives off gleaning. Our terminology might refer to Paul as a homeless person eating out of dumpsters and mumbling nonsensically to himself. Festus interrupts Paul’s address to Agrippa saying, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” (Acts 26:24). Paul replies a few verses later saying he wished Agrippa, Festus, and the rest of us to be “as crazy as he is.”
A great, deep faith in God will make you seem crazy. An active living faith will make you seem like a fool to those in the world. If we really believe what we claim to believe, we cannot help but be radically different. Consider that to the world it is foolish to:
- Lay by in store when you get no interest in return.
- Avoid every type (appearance) of evil.
- Teach and practice abstinence before marriage, monogamy in marriage, and life-long relationships.
- Speak against homosexuality, pornography, divorce, gambling, and lewd dancing daring to call them sin.
- Abstain from alcohol
- Pray without ceasing in good times and bad.
- Respect authority including parents, teachers, law, employers, and government.
- Believe in God as the Intelligent Designer and Creator of the universe, and the list goes on.
There are times when our faith makes us look foolish to other religious people. When we insist the Bible does not teach the rapture and a future millennial kingdom, but rather that the coming of Christ will end the earth’s existence and we will all receive our reward or punishment, many think us crazy. When we insist that immersion is for the forgiveness of sins, just as Peter said in Acts 2:38, they call us ignorant or narrow-minded. When we point to Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16 and insist that the instrument we play is our heart and not a lifeless creation of man, they consider us simple-minded and foolish.
Peter calls his readers and each child of God, “exiles.” We are refugees, displaced from home, never to settle in this land. This society is not where we belong. We may look strangely, we may talk strangely, we may dress strangely, and we may even be strange. This strange behavior is because we are not from here and are not satisfied to be here, because we long for home. Notice Paul’s self-diagnosis, “For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God;” (2 Cor 5:13) – If I am crazy, it is for God. Earlier he wrote to the Corinthians, what serves as a conclusion to these thoughts, “For the word of the cross is folly 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, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Cor 1:18-25)
Will you join me in being a Fool for Christ?
Scott McCown preaches for the Lord’s church in Parrish, Alabama. This July, Scott celebrates the beginning of his family’s 14th year at Parrish. Scott met his wife Amy while they were students at Faulkner; they have one son, Andrew, who will begin his sophomore year in high school this coming Fall. Scott completed a Master of Arts in Ministry at Faulkner in 2007. One of Scott’s favorite quotes he heard this year, “A difference that does not make a difference is not different.” You can follow @ScottMcCown on twitter and read more excellent posts on his blog, “The Morning Drive.”