April 1, 2001
II Corinthians 3:18 - 4: 8-13 (p. 993)
Before the Passage:
Context - the Corinthians were a troubled bunch -- divisions, fighting, & lots of pride.
Paul contrasts their worldly attitudes with that of true apostles.
Please read the passage.
I asked my computer to do a search this
past week on April Fools Day. The search engine said that there are 2.5
mil. sights that have something to do with April Fools. Clearly millions
of Americans have way too much time on their hands. There are Guide Books
on line -- The History of April Fools Day, An American Guide to April Fools
Day, The Top 20 Internet Pranks for April Fools, April Fools on the Net.
Orson Wells. Perhaps the greatest prank ever was not played on April 1st but on Oct. 30, 1938, when Orson Wells aired his famous broadcast of the "War of the Worlds." As most of you know, Wells did a mock broadcast of breaking news where Martians had landed in New Jersey and began an interplanetary war. And of course, a number of people believed the program and panicked.
Well, Iím not much into April Fools jokes because my job is to tell you the truth. But the Truth, the Ultimate Christian Truth, has a bit of foolishness built into it. It requires a little bit of foolishness to believe it, especially to all of us who live in this modern, scientific, technological age. The truth is that an Alien has invaded our planet. He came, not to New Jersey, but to Bethlehem. And came from another world, not for war, but to make heavenís peace with humanity. And instead of saying, "Take me to your leader," he said, "I want to be your Leader. Come, follow Me."
And so he went about the task of looking for those foolish enough to believe him and to follow him. In fact, one of his most famous followers, the Apostle Paul, called himself a "fool for Christ
." Vs 10: "We are fools for Christís sake."
On this April Fools Day, Iíd like you to think about the fact that there is a built in foolishness to our faith. In the wisdom of God, foolishness is a part of our religion. Now, in using this word "foolish," Paul isnít insulting our faith. Heís saying that Godís ways are often not our ways. And that Godís ways will often appear foolish in the worldís eyes.
Think of Jesusí most distinctive teachings:
- if someone strikes you, turn the other cheek
- if someone asks you to walk a mile with them, go two
- if someone asks you for your shirt, give him your jacket, too
- love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, and bless them
All of those are from the Sermon on the Mount, and they sounded as foolish in the first Century
as they do now. Only a fool would believe those things! And only a Fool for Christ would try to live Ďem out!
And thereís more!
- if you lose your life for Godís sake, youíll gain it
-the greatest among you is the servant of all.
- there is freedom in obedience
- there is God in the poor, in the "least of these"
- there is salvation in a man dying on a Cross
- there is assurance of heaven because 2000 years ago that Man got up again.
- and finally there is a feast that you are invited to whose menu is simply bread and the fruit of the vine, and yet itís a feast.
Ex. I once saw a painting that offended
me at first, until I thought about it. The painting was Jesus on the Cross
dressed in a clown suit. Jesus as Godís Clown, Godís Fool. The circus came
to town, and they killed the clown, because they did not understand him.
The wisdom of God is foolishness to this world.
Ex. Years ago I was in New York City on a class trip, and I saw a Street Preacher carrying one of those sandwich message boards on his back. You know, the ones with a message on each side. On one side the message read, "Iím a fool for Christ." On the other side it read, "Who are you a fool for?"
The text calls us to be "Fools for Christ." So your assignment this week is to be a fool. In fact, if weíre doing it right, a person without faith, should look at our lives and occasionally say, "Boy, that doesnít make sense. Why do they do that? Thatís foolish."
So go out this week, and strive with to fight against all your New England Congregational Reasonableness, and do something foolish.
- forgive someone who doesnít even ask for forgiveness.
- be kind to someone who doesnít really deserve it.
-love an enemy instead of fighting fire with fire.
- give to someone who canít pay you back
- give expecting nothing in return, not even a thank you
- pray for someoneís healing
- pray for someoneís salvation, for them to come to know God
- believe that a Carpenterís Death upon a Cross is your salvation.
- Pray and give thanks to Him for his sacrifice.
To help us in this task of being Fools for Christ, weíre going to have Holy Communion. An outsider might call this a silly little meal. But Fools for Christ call it a Feast - a feast of Grace, a feast of God, as the Living Christ, the One who "foolishly" gave himself up upon a Cross for us, is here today to once again give us the gift of himself.
Maybe thatís another foolish act of God, to believe that we are worthy of the presence and power of Jesus Christ. But Godís willing to take the chance. God just needs a few fools ready and willing to receive and follow.
"Iím a fool for Christ. Who are you a fool for?"
Letís pray: Gracious God, we moderns try so hard to be reasonable, rational, logical, and enlightened, and sometimes it just all gets in the way of following You . . . for your ways are not our ways. Instead of conforming You to our world, conform us, O God, to yours. Come to us now and feed us with heavenís fool, so that we may serve You as joyful, passionate Fools for Christ. In whose precious name we pray. Amen.