Are You a Fool for Christ?

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Our dedication to Christ makes us look like fools, but you claim to be so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are so powerful! You are honored, but we are ridiculed.

1 Corinthians 4:10

First-century Corinth was a haven for pride. People sought to increase their honor in the community by boasting of their accomplishments. Not surprisingly, the Corinthian Christians were caught up in this self-glorifying ethos, and began to boast of their spiritual attainments. This meant that they began to look down upon Paul, the founder of their church, because his life was so full of sacrifice, hardship, and deprivation.

In 1 Corinthians 4, Paul responds to the Corinthians ironically, emphasizing his “foolishness” in contrast to their “wisdom”: “Our dedication to Christ makes us look like fools, but you claim to be so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are so powerful! You are honored, but we are ridiculed” (4:10). In fact, the original Greek of this verse reads even more strikingly: “We are fools for Christ; you are wise in Christ” (hemeis moroi dia Christon, humeis de phronimoi en Christo). The word translated here as “fools” is related to the English word “moronic.” The NLT rightly suggests that Paul is not being literal here, but ironic. His foolishness in Christ is, in fact, an expression of God’s own wisdom. The Corinthians, who think they are wise, are actually buying into the folly of their culture. Yet, in many ways, Paul does appear to be foolish in the eyes of his contemporaries, most of all in his preaching of the “foolish” Gospel of Christ crucified (1 Cor. 1:18-23).

In today’s world, you and I might appear to be fools because of our commitment to Christ. It isn’t always popular to believe that Jesus is actually the one-and-only Savior of the world. And many will think the good news of a crucified and resurrected Jesus makes no sense whatsoever. We who seek to be faithful might very well end up looking like “fools for Christ.”

One way to respond to this uncomfortable situation is to downplay or even deny that which makes us countercultural. We can try to fit into the dominant culture by hiding or changing the Gospel. But our calling is to different ways of thinking and being, a way that the world will regard as foolish. If we live out this calling with integrity, if we are truly people of love and grace, if we live sacrificially in service to others, many in the world will be drawn to Christ. It was true 2,000 years ago in Corinth, and it is still true today.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Have you ever felt like a “fool for Christ”? When? What did you do? What’s the difference between being a fool for Christ and being a silly fool?

PRAYER: O Lord, you know that I don’t like being seen as a fool. I want people to think well of me, to see me as wise and cultured. So there are times when I am tempted to soft-pedal the Gospel. Forgive me, Lord, for worrying so much about my own image that I fail to speak and live for you.

Help me to be a fool for you. Yet, at the same time, give me wisdom so that I am not just an idiot. Sometimes it seems like Christians, under the banner of being fools for Christ, act in ways that are silly and wrongheaded and dishonoring to you. So help me, I pray, to discern rightly how to live in a countercultural way. Show me when it is, in fact, right to engage the culture and to communicate effectively within it.

All praise be to you, dear Lord Jesus, because you did the utterly “foolish” thing by becoming human and dying on the cross. May I live my whole life in imitation of your self-giving wisdom. Amen.