The Wisest Fool of All
Jul 3, 2017 1707
If we call someone a fool, it isn’t meant as a compliment, is it? Some people call Christians fools because of their faith. They mean it as an insult.
So why does the Apostle Paul call himself a fool? He says, “We are fools for Christ” (1 Cor 4:10). Not only that, but he seems to really like calling himself a fool. Why could that possibly be?
In the ancient world (and later as well), the fool was a stereotypical character in the theatre. The fool has many guises, but generally he (or she) presented themselves as the “village idiot.” They are never the hero of the play. Instead, their role is to contrast with the hero of the play.
They are never the handsome or beautiful character, but they serve a very important role. While they are the butt of jokes and laughter, often it is only the fool who really knows what is going on, while most of the time, the others go on being deluded. At the end, it is very often the fool who is shown up as having been the wisest of all the characters in the play.
So, what does it mean to be a fool for Christ?
To be a fool for Christ means that what you believe is probably contrary to the conventional wisdom. It means that there are more people who will laugh at you than agree with you. It means that you might not be seen by others as the hero. Instead, fools in the theatre are often mistreated. After all, it’s funny to kick a simpleton in the backside, or give him a quick slap on the back of the head, right?
But to be a fool for Christ also means that you know stuff that’s going on, when others don’t. Everyone else may think they’re fine, but they haven’t really got a clue. To be a fool for Christ means that at the end of the play that is called life, everyone will agree, after all the plot twists have been revealed, that you were right after all.
When you’re a fool for Christ, the Cross is the twist that in the end that unlocks all the mysteries of this drama called life.
Let’s see how this worked for the apostle Paul. Now we’ll be able to understand what he meant when he wrote to the church at Corinthian:
When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.[a] 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power (1 Cor 2:1–5).
The Corinthian Christians were more interested in being heroes than fools. It’s only natural. They valued the good looks, the brilliant ideas, and great public speaking skills. But Paul effectively says,
“There’s only one thing I wanted to talk about when I was with you, and that’s Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
For the worldly-minded, that’s laughable! It’s simply not enough! There’s got to be more to it!
But in the end, Jesus, and him crucified, is what matters. The Cross is the twist that in the end that unlocks all the mysteries of this drama called life. At some point or another, all of us are going to end up looking foolish, but the best kind of fool to be is a fool for Christ. Because Christ wins every time.