Fool Me

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 34; 146, Genesis 37:12-24, 1 Corinthians 1:20-31, Mark 1:14-28


We train our children not to trust strangers, especially ones promising treats. As adults we try to follow our own advice. We are skeptical of offers that sound “too good to be true.” Most of us don’t hitchhike or pick up hitchhikers. We lock up our homes, cars, and jewelry. Given the nature of the world, all these precautions are wise.

On the other hand, we still like our quick fixes and easy assurances. Proof lies in the bank accounts and hypocrisy of televangelists, politicians, snake oil salesmen, and home shopping gurus. Headline after headline reminds us we entrust them with far too much of our faith and money.

What then are we to make of fishermen who “immediately” dropped everything to follow Jesus, as Mark tells us, simply because he asked them to? In hindsight we support the decision, but what about anyone who abandoned her or his life today to follow someone promising to make them “day traders of men?” Do the words “cult” and “deprogram” come to mind? Were the first disciples wise people or lucky fools?

The difference between wisdom and foolishness is a tough call. Because God’s values are upside down compared to the world’s values, we are constantly called to evaluate our decisions, and sometimes to act in ways others would consider foolish. For example, how many of use are willing to decrease our standard of living – move into a smaller house, drive a cheaper car, or take a lower paying job – to spend more money or time on the poor? Very few, and they are often judged with humor at best and cynicism at worst. The world tells us this is foolishness, yet it is freedom.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us God makes the foolish wise and the wise foolish. Let’s not get cocky about which side of that equation we land on. Determining whether a path is right or merely attractive can take serious discernment. We want to follow Jesus urgently, but we want to be sure the path we choose truly leads to him. Let’s choose our guides with Godly wisdom and worldly foolishness.

Comfort: Your choices are between you and God.

Challenge: “Foolishly” critique your own opinion on a controversial issue.

Prayer: God of wisdom, bless me with your foolishness.

Discussion: Have you ever felt like a fool for Christ? When and why?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!

Fools for Wisdom

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 130; 148, 2 Kings 1:2-17, 1 Corinthians 3:16-23, Matthew 5:11-16


What does it mean to be wise? Unlike certain types of intelligence, wisdom is not something we can rate on a scale. Neither is it the same as knowledge, which we can acquire by the ton without finding an ounce of wisdom. The cliché that wisdom comes with experience certainly holds some truth, yet many people manage to experience decades without growing much wiser at all and some young people are what we call wise beyond their years. Though most of us would like to be wise, few of us would honestly describe ourselves as such.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul calls the thoughts of the wise futile. He advises them: “Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise.” What could this contradictory message mean?

Worldly wisdom points toward wealth, power, security, and a legalistic kind of justice. God’s wisdom, expressed through the teachings of Christ, points toward humility, mercy, risk, and a kind of justice that is about serving those most in need. The worldly view is often more appealing, and the temptation to twist scripture to rationalize our own desires and prejudices is a strong one. When we interact with the world, particularly if we are called to lead in some way, we should humbly seek God’s will above our own. Our confidence is to be primarily in God, not in our own thoughts and desires. True wisdom tries less to impose itself and more to invite others along.

Acting out of God’s wisdom may make us look foolish to the world, but it also empowers us. When Jeremiah insisted he was too young to be a prophet, God told him: “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you.” (Jer 1:7). Is there a sense of freedom in knowing we are not under pressure to be wise, but instead to be listening for and guided by God’s wisdom? After we listen we must still act with integrity, discernment, and accountability – as only a fool can do.

Comfort: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Challenge: Once in a while consider the possibility that you might be wrong about something you are sure about, and pray on that.

Prayer: Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
(Psalm 129:23-24)

Discussion: Who do you consider wise?

Join the discussion! If you enjoyed this post, feel free to join an extended discussion as part of the C+C Facebook group. You’ll be notified of new posts through FB, and have the opportunity to share your thoughts with some lovely people. Or feel free to comment here on WordPress, or even re-blog – the more the merrier!

Peace as Preparation

Today’s readings: Psalms 18:1-20; 147:12-20, Zechariah 4:1-14, Revelation 4:9-5:5, Matthew 25:1-13

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In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus relates a parable about ten bridesmaids – five foolish and five wise. They all take lamps to meet the bridegroom, but only the wise ones take supplies to keep the lamps burning when the bridegroom is delayed. The foolish bridesmaids ask the other for oil, but the wise ones are wise enough to say no because they’d all be unprepared. The foolish bridesmaids leave to buy oil and return to find the bridegroom and wise bridesmaids have left them behind.

It’s not difficult to imagine the foolish bridesmaids thought of themselves as unlucky, or victims of the wise bridesmaids’ stingy nature. Very often what we call poor luck or unfairness is our own lack of preparation. How do we properly prepare for the kingdom of God?

By not giving away more oil than we can spare. That doesn’t mean a lack of generosity; we should be generous of spirit and wallet. The oil we need to keep topped off is the energy to stay vigilant for the presence of Christ in the world. Many things conspire to steal this energy if we allow them: demanding jobs,  busy social schedules, housekeeping, and so on. None of these things is inherently problematic – they are  mostly good! – but neither is any of them our true purpose. If we don’t learn to say “no more oil for you, foolish bridesmaid” the energy left over for worship, charity, and our relationship with God can quickly dwindle to nothing. And by the way, if we think of those as “left overs” the reserves are already below acceptable levels. “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36)

Preparation means laying the groundwork for our whole lives, not just our spare time, to serve God. When we carefully steward our resources, we have enough energy to seek Christ and our peace in him. We must fill and refill our own lamps through prayer, service, rest, and worship.The wise will not save us from ourselves. Have you checked your oil lately? Tomorrow could be too late.

Comfort: It’s okay to do less so you can be more.

Challenge: Take an inventory of your obligations and eliminate the ones that drain your oil.