Posts Tagged Fool
For the message about 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, 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, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. [NRSA: 1 Corinthians 1:18-25]
Stumbling block of wisdom.
- God’s foolishness is wiser than our wisdom.
- God’s weakness of grace, patience, and love are our greatest gifts and blessings.
We do not like to be called fools.
- That means we should have known better.
- It means we might have underestimated our competition.
- We might have known what to avoid but did not follow what we knew to be good.
- Or we allowed our self to be misled or were taken advantage of by trusting the wrong person or not preparing for a task.
- Sometimes, we are called a fool, by a fool, who believes they hold the only solution, tool, or idea that is correct and their name-calling is a way of discouraging or degrading us.
- Most of the time we do not need anyone’s help in doing the opposite of what is good, right, needed, or true.
- When we look around, we have many role models of being fools.
Part of Paul play on words is between acting in foolish ways or thinking fool ideas compared to the foolishness we think of as humor.
Together let’s start with this prayer.
Mule & Farmer Story
The very first sermon I recall ever hearing about this comparing our wisdom with God’s foolishness, the preacher told a folk story about an old farmer whose mule was braying without ceasing all through the night. The next morning, he went out to the barn to examine the mule. As he poked, prodded, listened, and looked around the stall, he saw the mule had not eaten his dinner, his breath was terrible, and was laying down braying with the little energy the mule had. To touch the mule’s abdomen was we increate the bellows. The farmer called the vet who said, it is simple, your mule is constipated. I will be there in a half-hour! The farmer said, what will you do? The Vet said I will take a quart of mineral oil and half a cup of laxative and blow the mixture through a tube into the mule’s mouth. The farmer concocted the remedy confident that he was as smart as the vet and would be saving the fee by solving the problem himself. He told the vet, “No bother I will try that and call if it doesn’t work.” The farmer raced to connect an old milk jug, some tubing, and the mixture and fashion one end into the mule’s mouth. In his haste, he stirred up a bit of dust that caused the mule to take a giant sneeze, and just as the farm place the other end of the tube in his own mouth the mule blows first. Under the greater pressure, the farmer ingested a significant amount of the mule’s dose of the vet’s remedy. The farmer immediately regrated calling off the vet, who had had to call from the bed where he lay braying and moaning in the house. Moral: Sometimes when we think we know best; the mules blow first.
That is a long way to go to get a dose of foolishness, but we often take God’s gifts, plans, and breath into our own minds and hands and it backfires on us as well.
Humor and funny stories can be tools to tell the truth.
Being humorous is not Paul’s main point. Recognizing those who say they know better than God, despite their authority, popularity, and public approval, are in all times, fools to be avoided instead of emulated.
- The fools who believe the world’s news is more important than God’s news have already made a grave mistake before the first word is spoken.
- The fools who believe they have found the meaning of life without the need for God nor the flaws of religion place a greater wall of ignorance than millennia of ‘learned’ teaching.
- The fools say I know because they say they can replicate something in nature but they do so using elements already found in nature, and ideas that I have already been organized in God’s wisdom.
- The fool says I have learned, invested, given, tried, worked, served enough – it is someone else turn. God is never through with us and the moments we give up we forfeit what God will be doing through us next.
- The fool says the problem is too hard, I have failed in the past, We have tried before. We don’t have time, money, or people. “We can’t” and yet this is the confession that fools need to hear.
What can I do that is good, loving, and true, that is not done with God’s help, guidance, and blessing?
Who holds the power?
We have much learned in the academic world that invests trillions of dollars. We have political programs that reach through multiple generations of people. Our financial institutions span the globe with instantaneous transfers of wealth. Technology promises the rapid progress of amassing and discerning information at faster capacities than our minds can comprehend. But each of these has fundamental flaws that we choose to overlook in our society of progress. Academics can become bias. Politicians can be corrupted, we cannot eat consume legal tenders when we hunger, and where is technology when the power goes out? We need more than goals, ideas, control, and tools. We need the very reason to use all of these together, for good, in relationship to their design.
Alton Brown, Food Network Star, was the first person to that recall naming kitchen gadgets that take up room in the drawer or on the counter and can only do one job. He tries his best to avoid, “Unitaskers” preferring to invest in something that serves a variety of needs and not just one.
There are three exceptions in the kitchen.
- A thermometer for the oven
- A fire extinguisher
- A cherry pitter
These three save your teeth, keep your oven honest, and your home safe. They don’t need to do anything else.
But a salad spinner might be nice for cleaning lettuce, but you can also just shake it. A knife can peal a potato, slice meat, and pry open things.
What does multi-tasking and uni-tasking have to do with the Apostle Paul and the Christian faith?
As people with free will we are created with the freedom to be multi-taskers, but we are also created with a hope to become unitaskers.
When we are created with the ability to choose to love, trust, forgive, heal, bless, inspire, teach, share, build, feed, clothe, and befriend God and others because we share God’s love for life and relationship, then even though we are busing with many things in different times, we ultimately have one design that fits our nature.
The fool is using all the gifts, blessings, people, resources, talents, knowledge, and opportunity to serve themselves or those who believe God is not what makes the universe good, meaningful and loving, and we trade the ultimate joy for some little joy that lasts a moment compare an eternity of life in God.
I’ve been participating in a healthy choice lifestyle system that is not just a diet, with bars, shakes, weigh-ins, and coaching. The whole system is an experiment in learning how the little stuff adds up to the total. How one donut, a peanut butter cup, or a soft drink seem insignificant on their own, and in the moment, but by scales, sphygmomanometer, and glucose strips all tell me the little things have been adding up in a detrimental way. (Blood pressure cuff thingy is a sphygmomanometer.) The simple truth in changing my life and lifestyle is giving value and significance to individual small choices, ideas, and actions.
How do we shape our spiritual self? How do we find God? Where do we start to start fresh?
The how and why don’t actually matter as much as the starting to look at our lives the way God looks at
- our life,
- our family,
- our body,
- our value, and
- our purpose.
God’s story is told through the individual stories and events of people throughout time. That is what we find in the Old and New Testament. The average person in our community sees scripture as a book of judgmental rules, of dos and don’ts, that we believe we are the professional keepers of the truth. But this is not the real truth offered to us in scripture.
- God reveals God’s image and nature through us.
- God reveals God’s word and ideas in scripture.
- God reveals God’s presence in the creation, the wind, and the fellowship of God’s faithful.
So here we are, a third of the journey toward Easter is passing us by and where are we going?
- Who are we following in the day-to-day small stuff?
- Where are we headed with all that we carry in our bundle of responsibilities?
- How are we going find the heart of Christ in the face of fools telling us they know better than God than the church than us as the Body of Christ?
Let’s make one wise choice starting today, right now.
35:1 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus 35:2 it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. 35:3 Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. 35:4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.” 35:5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 35:6 then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; 35:7 the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. 35:8 A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. 35:9 No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. 35:10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
5:7 Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. 5:8 You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 5:9 Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! 5:10 As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.
The prophet Isaiah describes a highway, called the Holy Way, paved for God’s people to find their way to God. No wandering, not even fools will go the wrong way on that road.
I don’t know about you but I am so grateful for GPS directions. It is not 100% accurate, but it has helped me find back road to get around traffic, helped when my sense of direction is defective, give an example.., so cool.
Guys, remember the days of taking a short-cut hoping it will come out close enough. Now we don’t have an excuse for getting lost… unless.
The database does not include the correct coordinates for the location we want to find. The parsonage shows up on Google at Pete’s house. Hmm.
Isaiah has his own GPS… God’s Promised Salvation!
Isaiah and James point toward the intersection of our ways and God’s way. One of the spelling words I got to learn in seminary was hermeneutics. It is the 50 cent word for preaching… the weekly opportunity of directing traffic of our travel and God’s path in Scripture.
It is Christmas, that leads us to scriptures that teach and remind us of God’s promise to meet us on the road and guide us home toward God.
It is Christmas that is a reminder and a promise that God wants to save us.
But the real question is, “From what do we need saving?”
Hear the prophet Isaiah: The Lord’s highway leads to a place where the relationship Weak hands are made strong.
The first instruction for finding our way toward God comes from those already on the path. That is us, the witnesses of God’s promise and Word.
Tell those who have fearful hearts, “Be Strong, God is near!”
The opportunity Christmas gives us is to tell those people who are:
Afraid of loosing jobs, homes, business, “Be Strong in God’s strength.”
Afraid of illness, pain, death, “Be Strong in God’s strength.”
Afraid of failure, loss, loneliness, shame, Be Strong in God’s strength.”
It is a word of encouragement to someone, giving directions without judgement, from the perspective of Salvation…
Come this way is safe, this way is sure, this way is strong.
What keeps us from telling others? “Weak knees.”
Isaiah, tells that meeting God is the strength to the fear of reaching out to others.
Why not reach out?
We are busy. They are busy.
We are afraid, they are afraid,
We are un-prepared, they already know.
We don’t care, they don’t think we care.
Hear Isaiah’s witness.. God has a highway, room for everyone, not a narrow path, but a great seven lane highway
Where wandering… folks just enjoying the Blue Highways, sight seeing, who are more lost than they realize:
On the old highway maps of America, the main routes were red and the back roads blue. Now even the colors are changing, but those brevities just before dawn and little after dusk, times neither day nor night, the old roads return to the sky some of its color. Then, in trough, they carry a mysterious cast of blue, and its that time when the pull oft e blue highway is strongest, when the open road is beaconing, the strangeness a place where a man can lose himself. William Least Heat-Moon
Isaiah warns that God’s highway of salvation is even open to the wander.
Isaiah comforts to say that even the fool, can’t get lost following God.
Definition of FOOL: a person lacking in judgment or prudence.
Do you know anyone just killing time hoping to find meaning?
Someone hoping to win the $Billion lottery so they can start living.
Do you know someone lacking judgment about life decisions.
Someone who wastes resources with foolish choices, or
Someone who hoards resources with foolish choices.
God’s Way, the spiritual highway that leads us toward God,
Is a path of certainty for those who wander,
Is a path of hope for the who despair.
Is a road to meaning and purpose
So the passage call for you and me to be a guide, a witness.
Of God’s Highway.
It is great to have those signs that tell us what to expect at a highway’s exit. FOOD, LODGING, FUEL…
What are you telling folks this Christmas, and every day..
Merry Christmas.. Happy Christ Worship.
Still have folks who won’t say, Merry Christmas, like
If someone says, Happy Holidays, ask them, what makes them Holy Days for you? Jesus has come to show us the way to God… is my answer.
PRACTICE: “What makes them Holy Days for you?”