Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Silencing the Fools

Most of the foolish persons you'll encounter in this world are not particularly anti-God. That's not what makes them foolish. Rather, they are persons who aren't convinced that God - that faith - really "works" in this world. That it's meaningful. That it's do-able. That it's valuable in any real sense of the word. They don't believe it's even possible in the world that we actually live in, the broken places we all have to fight through.

It's not atheism that makes most fools; it's ignorance. They simply don't know what they don't know.

Peter has a good word for dealing with this ignorance, with these foolish persons - you can silence them "by doing good" (1 Peter 2). And our world needs this now as much as it ever has.

See, this world thinks that Christians are the fools. We hold onto a belief system that they don't see any practical value in. We believe things we can't see and can't even really prove. We call ourselves to a higher standard and separate ourselves from the way things "usually" work, claiming that what bears so much fruit in the world is broken and what seems to bear such little fruit is the better way. The world doesn't get it.

And it's because they don't see a lot of Christians who are truly as happy as Jesus promises we should be. They don't see a lot of Christians who are truly as good as they claim they are. They don't see a lot of Christians who are satisfied with living this "restricted" life they seem to be so into. They don't see us putting our faith in practice and enjoying the fruits of it. And they don't see what our "goodness" gets anyone - ourselves or others.

Because Christian goodness is something different than what the world calls good. Christian goodness is rooted in sacrifice, in the giving of self for something greater. Which means that when we live our "good" lives, the world is busy calculating all that it's costing us, and they aren't seeing all that we're gaining. They see what we're giving up, but they're doing the math and deciding it's not worth it. Even if the world can agree with us that being self-sacrificial isn't necessarily all bad, it's busy determining who and what we should sacrifice ourselves for. And it's looking at us with disbelief, if not disgust, and saying, "You gave up part of yourself for that?"

You bet I did.

Maybe it's because so many of us, as Christians, are also counting the costs over the gains. We're also talking about how exhausted we are, how much of ourselves we give, how little we seem to get back. We're living in depletion, not joy. The world is watching our goodness and cannot fathom that it's "working" for us, so of course they think this whole Christian thing is nutso.

What the world needs, what Peter calls us to, is to see the witness of our abundant life. The life that Jesus promised. They need to see us living out of what we have gained, not out of what we have lost. They need to see our joy in our sacrifice, what love poured out really looks like. They need to see how our lives are better, measurably better, by this thing we call "goodness." They need to see that Christian goodness really does "work." It really is something meaningful and valuable. That's the way to silence the ignorance of the world; inform them. Inform them by our example.

That means, of course, that we have to inform ourselves first. We have to live with our goodness in a way that the world would notice. We have to live with our goodness like it really is good. Until we change our own understanding of this and stop grumbling about what it costs us, we'll never be the example that the world needs.

We'll always be their fools. And so will they. 

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