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Date: January 29, 2017 (Epiphany 4) 1. Texts: Micah 6:1-8; Ps. 15; 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; Matthew 5:1-12. 2. Subject: discipleship. 3. Topic: choosing to live as fools for Christ. 4. Aim: challenge, encourage. 5. Proposition: “Society thinks us foolish, so let’s live as fools for Christ.”

WE FOOLS

We are fools! The society around us is certain of that and never hesitates to tell us that. We Christians are fools.

We believe in a God whose existence we cannot prove. We give ten percent of our income to an institution which the society totally distrusts. We argue over a book whose origins are unclear and whose meanings are obscure and hardly applicable in today’s world. Then we try to live as if this Jesus were actually God in human form. Oh yes, our society thinks us fools.

Which is exactly the same way it was back in St. Paul’s day. 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.1 The New Testament disciples were thought to be fools and the same is true for us.

Now, some disciples are giving in to this pressure from society. Some keep the fact of their attendance at a Bible study a secret. If they do mention Church attendance, the conversation will be about the Church not as a channel for God’s grace but as a social agency that helps with the hungry and the homeless. Social services replace gospel and discipleship, and many disciples give in to this pressure. Of course, we’ve all known for years that at any dinner party or family gathering we’re never allowed to talk about politics or religion and many
1 1 Corinthians 1:22-25.
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-Living as fools for Christ-
disciples extend that prohibition to all gatherings. Even our workplaces rarely hear of our discipleship. Society thinks us fools for believing in an invisible and inactive God. Society thinks us fools for attending services in a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution. Society thinks us fools for hoping in something after our life on earth is done.

So, let’s go ahead and be fools! If society already thinks us stupid and foolish, then let’s go ahead and give ourselves fully to the foolishness of the gospel. Why hide it? Why keep silence? Why pretend that Church is only a social services agency that we give a few dollars to in order that good work might be done in the community? If we are already condemned as fools, then we might as well be fools, fools for Christ.

I think this is what St. Paul is promoting in his First Letter to the Corinthians. “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.”2 “In for a penny, in for a pound.” “Might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb.” Having already been condemned as fools, let’s be foolish.

Let’s start with no more apologies about going to Church or attending Bible study or praying every day. Genuine disciples have experienced eternal salvation in the power of the Holy Spirit as the unmerited gift of God. Our lives are eternally different because of our relationship with God through the Lord Jesus. Why should anyone be embarrassed about that? Let’s live this truth fully and publicly. From here on, we choose to no longer hide our faith but to live it openly, in the full view of anyone who cares to see.

This will mean that our conversations will be punctuated by phrases like, “I think God is asking me to…” and “I heard this message from the Holy Spirit…” We can openly say, “I was reading the Bible the other day and suddenly this realization hit me…” When asked to do some public service on a Sunday morning, we will courageously say, “Oh, I’m sorry: I have to
2 1 Corinthians 1:21.
Putting these key phrases on the digital display or on flipchart paper will be helpful.
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worship God at that time. Can we arrange it for another time?” Your neighbour unburdens herself on you and you respond with, “I don’t know what you believe, but I’d like to pray about this situation with you right now. Would that be alright?” Let’s be the kind of apprentice to Jesus who publicly displays faith in action without apology.

Then, since the majority of North Americans no longer attend Church or have any meaningful relationship with God through Jesus, let’s look for people with whom we can share our faith. Look for someone 1. you already know and are personally acquainted with, 2. who is open, sympathetic and practices meaningful hospitality, 3. with whom you share things in common (children, community interests, leisure activities, etc.). Then, look for frequent opportunities to share your experience of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit using language and circumstances gained from that other person. It makes no sense to say to someone unacquainted with historical Christianity, “God’s will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” or “Not my will, rather thine.” Our neighbours certainly don’t talk in the language of the King James Bible and when sharing the gospel, neither should we. Find someone open and caring, and then you share the gospel in the same way, using their language and context.

This public proclamation of our faith experiences will be supported by our lifestyles. We all believe that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Well, we back up our thousand words using the picture of our lives. We live publicly day by day in a way that the prophet Micah would recognize: [God] has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.3 In effect, we prove the existence of God by our own lives as much as we demonstrate his work in us through our words.

3 Micah 6:8.
Putting these key phrases on the digital display or on flipchart paper will be helpful.
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Now we know in practical terms how to live as fools for Christ. And make no mistake: many people will think us foolish—but not the open and caring people we know with whom we share our experience of Jesus. That’s the remarkable thing. The world will condemn us as fools, but never the ones with whom we share our faith in terms they can appreciate. Oh, they may never agree with us, but that’s hardly relevant. Those people with whom we share our words of faith and our lives of service will appreciate the genuineness of our care and the reality of our faith.

So let’s be fools for Christ—or in better words, let’s live as genuine disciples of our Lord and Master, Jesus.

AMEN.