People think God's people are foolish. Maybe not...
The following is a copy of the message I gave at Celebration of Faith Church on Sunday, August 8, 1998.
I've titled my talk today, "God's Foolish People".
I am sure you can think of many people, some even in this congregation, who have looked foolish. But what I want to show you today is that being "foolish" for God is a good thing, and God will bless it. We'll talk a little about knowing when you are "foolish" or not. And about how we need to think twice before judging God's "foolish" people.
So, what is "foolish"? The American Heritage Dictionary defines foolish as "1) having or resulting from poor judgment; unwise" and "2) absurd, ridiculous". Some synonyms for foolish include absurd, crazy, harebrained, idiotic, nonsensical, preposterous, sappy, silly, wacky, and zany. Yes, I can think of a few Christians here at Celebration of Faith like that.
There are many, many people in the Bible who were "foolish". They were absurd, ridiculous people, and they did crazy, silly, and nonsensical things. People like...
The Bible says that...
"For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." (1 Corinthians 1:25)
And while they all looked foolish in the eyes of the world, ... in the eyes of people, ... they were exactly where God wanted them to be, and doing exactly what God wanted them to do. And God blessed each of them.
In 1st Corinthians, chapter 1, Paul says...
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. ... But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (1 Corinthians 1:25,27)
The Bible has many, many examples of God's "foolishness". We are going to look at three examples today: Noah, King David, and Paul & Silas.
Let's take a look at Noah...
When God first created the earth, there was no rain. In Genesis 2 is says...
the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth ... but streams (or mists) came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. (Genesis 2:5-6)
It could have been something like the fog you find in San Francisco or on California's north coast. Fog is not rain, but everything gets wet anyway.
So, life goes on, men and women do what comes naturally and people started to populate the Earth. But, there was a problem. These people were very wicked and the Lord finally decided to send a flood to cleanse the earth.
He told Noah -- the only one who was listening to God at the time -- that he was going to flood the Earth, and that Noah should build a boat. And Noah listened, and did as God commanded. (see Genesis 6-1:22)
So, let's paint a picture here.
Noah is out working on this boat with his sons. Now this is a big boat, 450 feet long (the length of 1.5 football fields), 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high, plus the roof (about the height of a 5 story building). This is one big boat.
So along comes some guys from town. They have come out to see what Noah is up to and see this huge boat.
"Hey, Noah!", they ask, "What is this thing?"
Noah replies, "It's an ark, a boat."
"Uh, Noah, the water is way over that way. How are you going to get the boat from here to the water?"
"I'm not. God is going to send water falling down from the sky, and it's going to flood the whole earth. I'm building the ark to save me and my family and the animals."
"Water raining down from the sky?", the guys snicker, "You've got to be kidding! It's never rained! ... God's never done that before!".
"Well", Noah replies, "God is going to do a new thing. He's going to flood the Earth. You should repent and get ready, too."
At this point, the guys wander back to town, laughing amongst themselves and talking about "that crazy Noah, what a fool".
So, what happened next? The Bible says...
For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. (Matthew 24:38-39)
The people didn't have a clue, not because they were not told -- there's this 450 foot ark in Noah's back yard -- but because they chose to ignore what God was saying. They didn't know, because they did not want to know. They did not want to listen.
Noah was a "foolish" man, in the eyes of those around him. But, Noah was the only one at the time listening to God and doing what God wanted him to do.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:25)
What looked foolish to man -- "you're building a what?" -- was wise before God.
That's why it says, in Proverbs 9:10...
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)
The only way to have true wisdom and understanding is to look at things from the God's point of view.
Now, let's take a look at another foolish person, King David.
You know King David. He was the one who slew the giant Goliath and had succeeded Saul as king.
Now King David was ruling all of Judah and Israel, and decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant up to the City of David. Now, you talk about a party! Let's go to 2 Samuel 6:12...
Now King David was told, "The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God." So David went down and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. When those who were carrying the ark of the LORD had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets. (2 Samuel 6:12-15)
Now this was some homecoming party. You have the people carrying the ark. You have sacrifices every 15 feet. All of Israel has turned out for the party. They are shouting and playing their trumpets and having a good time. David is there partying with everyone else, wearing just a linen ephod.
Now an ephod is two squares of cloth, one to cover your front and one for your backside, held together with straps at the shoulders and a rope belt. The ephods for the temple were very ornate, with gold threads and jewels and things, and usually worn over other clothing. But David's ephod this day was just a simple cloth affair. And, remember, they didn't have Hanes underwear back then.
So, imagine the picture...
All Israel is happy. We're bringing the Ark home. Everyone is in a party mood. There's lots of dancing and shouting and music. King David is in there with everyone else -- not as King this day, but just one of the people being blessed.
Everyone is dancing up a storm and just having a good time, including King David. In fact, David is dancing so much that the rope around his ephod came off and, how do we say, "things were flapping in the breeze".
So, let's keep reading...
As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart. (2 Samuel 6:16)
And skip down to verse 20...
When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, "How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!" (2 Samuel 6:20)
Translation: David, you looked like a fool out there, exposing yourself to everyone, and letting even the slave girls see "what your made of"! Jerk!
So, in verse 21...
David said to Michal, "It was before the LORD, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the LORD's people Israel -- I will celebrate before the LORD. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor."
And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death. (2 Samuel 6:21-23)
David celebrated because of the things the Lord had done for him. He, the King of Israel and Judah, had no problem being undignified or humiliated.
He knew who was really in charge ... and what really mattered.
It was not people, or a person's opinion, but God's that counted. And David was going to worship and glorify God. David wanted to let God know that he was grateful and happy -- and he didn't care if any man or woman thought he was foolish or not.
In 2 Samuel 22:4, David says, "I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise". Why does he do this? "... and I am saved from my enemies."
David knew who the real king was. It wasn't him, but God.
And what about this foolish King David? What happened to him? He went on to write most of Psalms and was one of the most important people in the Old Testament. God says of David...
"I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do." (Acts 13:22)
He doesn't sound like any fool to me.
It reminds me of the scripture, Nehemiah 8:10, where it says, "For the joy of the LORD is your strength." David was definitely into the joy of the Lord and had no problem showing it.
So what's the difference between being God's "fool" and just being foolish?
Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)
OK, so we need to know what God's will is. Now that is a whole sermon, in and of itself. But to know God's will you would probably want to be praying, reading your Bible, spending time with other believers -- putting God first in your life.
Paul goes on to say...
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-20)
Sounds like King David.
Putting God first in your life and having God always in your thoughts. If you are always thinking of God, and looking to God, and praising God for everything that happens -- you open yourself up to what God wants to say to you.
Many people ask, why doesn't God speak to me?
My question would be: Have you spent any time listening to him lately? Have you been in prayer? Have you read God's word? Have you been praising and thanking God for all he's done for you? Trust me, it helps.
Our last look is at a couple of foolish Christians, this Paul guy and a friend named Silas.
We find this example in Acts, chapter 16.
Paul and Silas have been preaching the word in Philippi. Paul cast a demon out of a slave girl, which in turn has caused a riot. Paul and Silas have been stripped, beaten and in locked up in the local jail.
Let's pick up the story...
After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. (Acts 16:23-25)
You talk about Crazy Christians! Here they are stripped, beaten and in jail, and all they do is pray and praise God.
Maybe they are singing songs like "Praise God from whom all blessings come..." or "Our God is lifted up with the shouts of joy..." -- keeping time by yanking on their chains.
These crazy guys travel half way around the known world, and preach about this guy Jesus -- who was killed, but now alive(???) -- and now here they are in jail. Sounds wise to me.
Obviously, they are not where God wants them to be. A good Christian would never end up in jail like these guys. They are obviously not in God's will. And making all that noise. ... Foolish Christians!
But, now, let's keep reading...
Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose. (Acts 16:26)
Gee, maybe God was listening...
The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, "Don't harm yourself! We are all here!"
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household." (Acts 16:27-31)
Because of faith. ... Paul and Silas knew that God must have had a reason for them being there. So, they did not loose faith, but were praising God.
Most people would think they were very foolish. But, they knew that God had a plan for them that night.
Romans 8:28, in Young's Literal Translation, reads...
And we have known that to those loving God
all things do work together for good,
to those who are called according to purpose. (Romans 8:28)
They listened to God's calling and allowed themselves to be right where God wanted them to be.
Because they were foolish, and got themselves flogged, and put in jail, and then were foolish enough to praise God for all this and rejoice in his presence -- because of this, the message of God's salvation was preached to maybe close to 100 people that night, people were saved, and Paul and Silas ended up with a hot meal and a nice bed to sleep in that night.
So. What is the key?
In all these cases, God blessed those who were "foolish".
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)
If you want to be wise, and not truly foolish, start looking at the world from God's point of view.
Start praising the God who saved you. When you praise him, you open yourself up to God and activate your faith. And your faith allows God to bless you and heal you and work thru you.
Proverbs maybe says it best. ..
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and don't depend on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will direct and make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
One final note. When you look at these stories -- Noah, David, and Paul & Silas -- who was really the foolish person, and who was the wise person?
Remember that, the next time you start criticizing you fellow Christian.
"That Crazy Christian! You wouldn't catch me doing that."
He or she is probably doing God's will, doing God's work.