Seven years ago, we took a trip to Italy with our daughters and sons-in-law. This was before the babies started to arrive and we all agree it ranks very high as the best vacation ever. Some of our favorite memories are the evenings we spent at the Piazza Navona in Rome. After dinner, we’d find a gelato stand for dessert and then wander the length of the plaza watching the spray paint street artists. These talented men and women were amazing. You had no idea what the finished picture would be until they applied the last few touches and turned the picture to face you. Inevitably you’d hear the crowd in unison exclaim, “ohhhhhh….” or “wow!” as they recognized what the artist had produced.
This story came to mind as I pondered our gift for today: the gift of foolishness.
There is a kind of foolishness described in the Bible that we want to avoid; it’s not a gift! The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1). Those who know about God but reject Him and refuse to honor Him speculate futilely and have foolish, darkened hearts (Romans 1:21). But I’m talking about a different kind of foolishness, in which we are the fools from the world’s perspective.
1 Corinthians 3:18-20 – Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is the One who catches the wise in their craftiness;” and again, “The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless.”
Paul said he was a fool for Christ’s sake (1 Corinthians 4:10), because the preaching of the world is foolishness in the eyes of those who are perishing (1 Corinthians 1:18). He was perfectly content to be viewed as a pest and a dissenter (Acts 24:5). He was accused by the Roman Governor Festus of being out of his mind and driven mad by his learning (Acts 26:24).
There are two kinds of wisdom – the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God; to each the other’s wisdom is foolishness. Right now, we are living in the world, and if you are considered a fool because of your faith in Jesus, you are blessed. Being seen as foolish is a gift. God is the artist creating the masterpiece we call the human story, and you are seeing it and living it from the eyes of the Artist, as revealed in the Word of God. The world is the person standing on the other side, unable to make sense of what they are seeing. It looks like random, meaningless strokes, and anyone who sees differently is a fool.
Have you ever tried to explain or defend your faith to someone who thinks you’re foolish? It’s not fun. It’s always been uncomfortable, but in today’s volatile, political climate, to speak out against the world’s narratives is not only to be seen as a fool but as a hater – someone who needs to be silenced, if not removed. We must embrace the gift of being seen as a fool if we are going to stand for biblical principles and truth.
The Bible tells us that in the not-too-distant future, Christians who proclaim their faith in Jesus and refuse to bow to the world’s system of government will suffer persecution and even death. Oh, wait, that’s already happening in many places in our world! How foolish do you think someone appears to the unbelieving world, to choose being shot, run through with a sword, or beheaded simply because of a belief in a God they can’t see? Oh, may we all be so foolish!
One day, God’s going to turn the picture around and the whole world will see what He purposed from the beginning of time. There will be no more confusion about who He is. There will be a worldwide collective “wow” heard, as every knee bows, and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord. Those who are seen as fools today will be revealed as wise. Until then, let us faithfully bear up under the world’s labels with boldness and compassion, and a continued commitment to live and speak the truth, even to the point of death.