Fools for Christ
This single line of verse is charged with meaning and eternal purpose. The fact is that if someone, or some group, or some political party insults your for your faith in Jesus Christ and your adherence to that faith in all matters of moral importance, then two things are true about you. First, you must actually be living the Christ life honestly, openly and joyfully in your daily life. Secondly, you are not afraid of such things as the insults of others because you know that the Spirit of God is upon you.
There is one thing that is more important than the ephemeral praise of others. That is the the praise of God. Many who praise us do so in order to receive something in return, or to benefit themselves in some kind of way. Or their praises are given without thought, without sincerity. The irony is that those who insult you for following the Way of Christ, are doing so, whether they are aware of it or not, because you are troubling their conscience in some way. When you are simply doing what Jesus commanded you to do, that is, loving one another as he loves us, you become a kind of challenge to their self-centered world views, and this often makes them angry. Not one of us likes to be wrong, but as Christians, we know that the reason for Christ’s coming into the world was precisely because we were ʺwrongʺ in countless ways. But God’s love is greater than our sins. His love is so great that he will not abandon us, even though we abandon him often, wittingly or unwittingly. Still, because of Jesus, we Christians know the power and the infinite generosity of his forgiveness.
Here is where our faith makes us ʺdifferentʺ in the world. We know ourselves forgiven, and we also know that that is what we must do even to those who ʺinsultʺ us for our faith in Christ. This is the central purpose of our faith in this life. Our faith moves us to walk the narrow path in a world full of wide and diverging roads. It also moves us to comfort the sick, to visit the imprisoned, to feed the hungry and give drink to those who thirst. We are to be people guided by God’s sense of justice, mercy, hospitality and forgiveness. We are charged, by Christ himself, to love our enemies. If we are struck on one cheek, we are to offer the other. We are to respond to insult and injury with prayers for those who treat us in this way.
We are not insulted because we are wrong in the world, but rather, because we are right. Because the Spirit is in us, we can face the challenges that come with being a follower of Christ in this world. In a very real way, we are sharing in the mission and the sufferings of Christ. But just as his coming into the world was necessary for our salvation, our living the Christian life now, keeps that truth real in our own days. Though he came as one of us, and revealed to us the nature of the Father’s love in his own person, many rejected him, insulted him, and finally, because he was too great a challenge to their own ego-defined truths, and because he made their consciences uncomfortable, they nailed him to a cross. Could there have been any greater insult thrown in the face of God? If Jesus, the Son of God, endured such things, then it is no surprise that we might find ourselves treated in like manner today. The same realities are present today in humankind that were present in Jesus’ day.
The Evil One is still foolish enough to think that he can win this world away from God. His problem is still the same. He has no sense of humor. He takes himself too seriously. He will brook no challenge to his ego. Christians, on the other hand, have been given the profound grace of a sense of humor. A Christian, because of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, has been offered the grace of humility. It is our humility that helps us laugh at our own foolishness, and to forgive the foolishness of others. Those who insult us for being faithful Christians cannot bear to understand themselves as foolish. They, in their pride, think us fools for our humility. On the other hand, Jesus died for us, even though we were and are fools. He suffered the apparent ignominy of the cross for us, precisely because he loved us enough to redeem us from our foolishness. We understand ourselves, then, as the Apostle Paul did, as ʺfools for Christ.ʺ And in following Christ, even though we are insulted for doing so, we willingly cooperate, with our very lives, in the redemptive love of Jesus. What a privilege! What a grace we have been invited into. Thanks be to God.
Let us pray: ʺYou who show the light of your truth to all who are lost, give us the grace to reflect that light into the dark corners of the world with our own lives. Give us the courage and the strength to respond to insult and injury with the faithful challenges of compassion and forgiveness. We ask this prayer in your name, Jesus. Amen.