“We are fools for the sake of Christ.”
I Corinthians 4: 10
Today is April Fool’s Day. This is often thought of as a day of laughter, and for practical jokes. Understandably, not many people are in a joking mood right now. Still, it is curious that the Apostle Paul writes to the church at Corinth, saying, “We are fools for the sake of Christ.”
Although this may seem to be a light-hearted statement, Paul was actually addressing a seriously troubled and divided Corinthian church. They were judgmental and prideful. Paul knew that this was not God’s will for the church he had founded, and so he sought to gently correct them.
Being judgmental is a behavior that is easy to slip into, without even realizing we are doing it. It was an unhealthy behavior. Paul saw that it could lead to great divides between people, and in the church. We may have an opinion about something that someone else is doing or saying, and we may judge that what they are doing or saying is wrong. Often, those judgments are quite harsh. Sometimes, the person with the strong opinion can turn out to be wrong. This is why Paul is so insistent for us not to fall into this behavior.
In the Corinthian church, people were judging who was the better leader: the Apostle Paul, who founded the church; or Apollos, a leader who came after Paul. Earthly loyalties are a distraction for the people. Rather than looking to God, they were focusing upon their human leaders. In this letter, Paul tries to show the Corinthians a better way that judgment. In verse 3 of this chapter, he says “with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself.” Frankly, Paul doesn’t care about what people think about him. He cares about what people think about God.
He follows this up by affirming, in the very next verse, “It is the Lord who judges me.” Paul is explaining that God is the master judge. I love the sign which says, “Love everyone, and I will sort it out, God”.
Being a fool for Christ means being so focused upon Christ, that you don’t care about what the world thinks of you. It must be admitted that this is certainly easier said than done. Sometimes, others' opinions matter to us in the day-to-day, simple things. I’m not referring to things like should I wear this-or-that, what should I eat, or other daily decisions. I’m talking about God’s big picture for us. We need to realize and accept that God is the final judge of our lives. How we live and show Christ's love, through our actions, is what Paul is talking about.
Paul expands on what it means to be a fool for Christ in parts of verses 12 and 13. There, he writes of all true Christ-followers: “When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly.” To the world, which believes more in “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” Old Testament world-view, such selfless love for enemies is foolish. Only a fool would offer someone their coat, when that same person just took their shirt. And yet, that is what we are called to do.
The world will never fully understand the love we called to show to others, especially those who are hostile to the gospel. Yet showing such outlandish, “foolish” love may be the only way to break through the walls of pride and judgment in our world. After all, only a fool would willingly die on a cross for people who shouted, “Crucify Him!” Yet that is how much Jesus loved us. May we show His love to the world…
Prayer for the Day
Loving and holy God,
We confess that so often, we worry about what people think of us, and how they are judging us. The Apostle Paul was someone who cared less about the judgments of others, and more about following you. Help us to imitate his example. Make us into “fools for Christ,” loving in outlandish, crazy ways. We pray this prayer in the name of Your son, and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.