I remember when I was a child and I wanted to do something because my friends were doing it [my only argument] and some parental figure type would take me down with, ‘Oh yeah, well if your friends all jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?’
You can’t beat that kind of logic, right? Well, I couldn’t. Not back then at least. Beaten every time.
Sometimes it feels like that when I get into a discussion [the pacifist word for argument] with someone who is not a follower of Jesus. Their arguments sound a lot cleverer than mine and I often don’t know how to respond [at least not in a way that will stop them responding as they always have a response, but then maybe so do I – perhaps there is a reason we both believe as strongly as we both believe?].
There are some bible verses that help me make sense of this, but the same verses just ‘prove’ to those on the outside how logical they are being because I am able to ‘hide behind these verses’ that obviously make my argument unchallengeable. And they’re right. Well to the extent that the verses kind of make challenging them impossible which if you’re a follower of Jesus backs up your following and which if you’re not, backs up your skepticism.
I get that, I really do, so in essence they don’t prove anything, but they still bring me great comfort and make a lot of sense to me.
Passages like 1 Corinthians 1.18-31:
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 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. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God – that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
And then also this passage from 2 Corinthians 5. 13-15:
13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
If I was going to make up a religion to try and fool the hugest percentage of people on the planet, then Christianity and the Bible is probably not the one I would go for. That right there doesn’t make sense:
“The one who wants to be greatest must be the least of all.”
“Love your enemies, bless those who persecute you.”
“To follow Me, deny yourself, take up your cross [live as if you are dead] and follow Me.”
God, the creator of the Universe, coming to earth via the impregnation of a virgin teenager.
Assembling a crew of uneducated, cowardly misfits as the team I am going to leave in charge to take care of this thing.
The leader and Saviour of the group hangs out with poor people and prostitutes and the lepers [who were quarantined outside of the whole city] and the marginalised and demonstrates his leadership by getting down on his knees and washing the feet of this followers.
I could go on. But it doesn’t make a lot of sense. That in itself does not make it true. But it has to maybe make you wonder for a second if it is so completely ridiculous in concept, then just what if it was true?
The people who have turned people away from Christianity through their words and actions are always those who have lived and spoken in a way that is very much unlike the way Jesus Christ lived and spoke. It is not when we live like Him that people are repulsed, but when we get it horribly and completely messed up so much so that people start identifying what they see with following Him and run away violently from both.
Jesus’ message is one of being known by the Love [a special, sacrificial, higher version of what we have generally witnessed] we have for each other and for those who disagree with us and even those who would see us dead. His invitation is to a life that is life lived to its absolute fullest. To an extreme of Love that the world has seldom experienced.
It is crazy. It is foolish. It is mind-boggling why anyone would choose to take on all the baggage that comes with being identified with the church and with those who call themselves little Jesuses without very much resembling Him.
But there is something in me that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to clearly express in an argument that will change anyone’s mind ever. It is the part of me that just knows. I have identified this foolishness of Jesus, of the cross, of the bread and the wine, of community, of that real kind of unconditional Love, of sacrifice and surrender and submitting, of Good News, deep within me. And I know that it’s real. I just know.
And for that you may call me crazy. You may see it as foolish. You may ask me, “Well if your friends all jumped off the bridge, would you?” And this time, I might just answer, “Absolutely. ” Sometimes it is the most foolish things in the world that make the most sense.