How foolish I feel at times following the way of Jesus. Sometimes it seems foolish to say yes to his commands and follow what he says, what he does. There are many things I believe that I do not fully understand. Faith in the way of Jesus is both simple and complex. We will never in full understand all of who God is or why he has created everything as he has. Many times our attempts to be wise fail us.
Wisdom is a gift given by God. God wants us to love him with our minds, but there are many things we must first trust in faith before they make sense to us. Things like forgiveness. I have come to know the freedom which results from choosing to forgive. I now understand that it is good to forgive, that I was imprisoned in my unforgiveness by bitterness and hate and had separated myself from God. I chose to forgive because Jesus instructs us to do so. I now know the freedom that comes when I choose to obey.
Have you ever thought about the need for Jesus to die? Why did God require this particular act for redemption and restoration? God pointed to the necessity for this from the beginning, and there is no doubt in my mind that it was and is the answer. It is the good news. But it seemed foolish to me as it did to many at the time of Jesus who were waiting for a conquering king, not a sacrificial one… until I accepted it.
18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
(1 Corinthians 3:18-23)
Jesus told us to have faith like a child. This is an interesting phrase. Two things come to mind. Firstly, the quizzical nature of children. They are always asking why. But why? I also think of the way they believe anything we tell them, or stop asking when we tell them to. They believe something is good for them because someone they trust tells them it is good. Sure they might ask why, but even without an answer they trust.
In many ways we must do the same. Obey without understanding. Trust the part we know without understanding the whole. I had a conversation the other day with some people as we were hiking, and I realized how many times i said the words “I don’t fully understand, but it is what I read and the experience I have.” I love to make sound arguments for or against certain things. I love to strategize and teach fully the things of scripture. But I realize in many things it is simple understanding and testimony that I am left with. There is wisdom in it, but not my own. It will sound foolish to some (and even myself) but even the foolishness of God is wiser than man.
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; (1 Corinthians 1:27)
Sometimes when I read scripture, a part of me doubts what I read. I think I can’t just take authority in Jesus name and see a person healed. I think I can’t just ask God a question and expect him to speak. I can’t just ask God for this person to accept Jesus and expect him to show up. I can’t tell the wind and the rain to depart and expect it to happen. I can’t just give God my painful experiences and expect him to remove the taint of sin. Can I? Sometimes I think I shouldn’t turn the other cheek if someone strikes me on one side. I shouldn’t love and do good to my enemy. I shouldn’t care for the people around me as if I were caring for myself. Should I?
Scripture informs me on all of these things, so I choose to believe. Even if the world sees it as foolish, even if I don’t see why it makes sense, this is how I know I am to live. The wisdom of God shames the wise of this world. There is so much in scripture that is plainly written and our attempts to make sense of it muddies the waters. Yes, there are truths that are deep and the more we study and spend time with God, the more we understand. But often understanding comes through acceptance and “foolish obedience” despite our mental objections.
Let us walk out in full obedience the part we know. Let us not wait on full understanding. Doubt is overcome by faith before knowledge. Our God is gracious, and gives wisdom to those who seek it. Let us walk in the simplicity of his invitation with joy, trusting that God is not deceiving us. Let us love our neighbours as he instructs. Let us trust that his sheep hear his voice and that we are the sheep of his pasture. Let us go and make disciples of all nations. Let us walk in the authority we have been commissioned in. Let us ask for the good gifts the Holy Spirit has for us. Let us repent and turn from the ways and wisdom of this world. Let us ever seek his voice, his word, and his way as we run the race set before us.