On occasion the Christian informs us that they expect what they say will appear foolish. As if it was a badge of honor; giving a stamp of approval to the statement by someone being puzzled by it.
I suspect this harkens back to 1 Cor. 2-4 where Paul states that the preaching of Christ crucified is “foolishness,” and Paul himself brags of becoming a “fool” for Christ. 1 Cor. 4:10. And what Christian does not want to be like Paul? Er…I mean what Paul said Jesus would want.
Thus we hear statements prefaced by “This will sound foolish to you…” or “People believe I am a fool when I say...” often followed by some trite quip about faith or prayer.
But then I look at how Christians actually live. They don’t look very foolish to me. No sirree! In fact they look quite clever.
You know what looks foolish to me? Not planning for the future. Spending every dollar in your wallet seems very unwise to me. Common sense tells us we should be aware that things change, and we might need a bit of help from a bank account.
So we plan for retirement by investing, or putting money in a 401(k) or IRA or Mutual Funds. (Sorry this is so Americanized.) We anticipate our children’s futures by having education funds. We have bank accounts, savings accounts, checking accounts, Christmas Clubs. Sometimes more than one.
We keep a little extra cash “just in case.” Stocks, bonds, portfolios and coffee tins with cash hidden in far corner of the garage. Reviewing the history of humanity would indicate this is smart.
I would expect, then, Christians, being foolish, are doing no such thing. I would expect that they do not worry about what to eat, or drink or wear. Only we pagans would be pursing such useless trinkets. Matt. 6:30-32.
The idea of a Christian, who has this “foolish” faith in the creator of the universe caring for them, having a bank account or stock portfolio, would be laughable! They have no need for such things. Can you imagine Paris Hilton worrying about how much money is in her bank account? Christians have so much more power than that to tap into.
But what do I see? Why, they follow the stock market more closely than I do. They have larger homes, retirement funds, education packages, and bank accounts than I would ever dream. What exactly is being so “foolish” about being more worried than I am as to how tomorrow will turn out?
Know what else seems pretty foolish? To not take advantage of the medical advances we have now. If we need treatment, we have doctors, surgery, hospitals, clinics, medications of every stripe, physical therapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, mental therapists and even massage therapists. Yes, being a man, I have that foolish tendency to “tough it out” until I am really sick. It is very likely I will be one those that drives themselves to the hospital after having a heart attack.
Even as a Christian, I could not proudly equate that to relying on Christ. I was just being stubborn. (And I hate doctors, surgery, hospitals, clinics, etc.)
I’d think it pretty foolish, rather than having open heart surgery, or chemotherapy, or having an orthopedic doctor set a bone, that the Christian has the elders of their church pray over them, and then never treat again. James 5:13-15. So—is that what we see Christians do?
Nope. They go to the same doctors, sit in the same waiting rooms, and receive the same prescriptions as I do. Oh, sure they add a line item to the Wednesday Night Prayer Sheet. But on Thursday, they are keeping their appointment!
It is with wry amusement we see Christians go to the doctor, have surgery, continue with a course of medication, and then say how God healed them with the power of prayer. Those doctors did not have anything to do with it. *roll eyes*
Oh, no. Christians are not foolish in the least. They take advantage of the bull Stock Market and the newest medication from Johnson & Johnson, just like I do.
Churches have locked doors and alarms.
Think about it.
Luke 6:27-35 clearly states that if someone steals from you, don’t expect it back. “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.” O.K. that not only sounds unwise, it sounds dangerous.
Apparently, when a Christian says they are foolish, they would prefer we forget or not read Luke 6. (Hey, I will do ya one better. If you had people at the church 24 hours in order to tend to the needy, feed and shelter the homeless, and be open for those in need at 2 a.m., (Matt. 6:1-4) you wouldn’t have to worry about locks. Odd concept, eh?)
When I am told by a Christian that what they say may appear foolish, I look at their locks, their bank account and their medicine cabinet and inwardly smile. What they do seems to be quite unfoolish indeed!
News Flash to Christians: we can read your Bible, too! We see what Christ says about how you should live, what you should do, and what you should put your trust into. We see how you act (not just what you say) and we are unimpressed with your claim that you “foolishly” believe in this God. You act too wise in the ways of the world to claim being foolish.
Look at the Sermon on the Mount. (Matt. 5:1-7:23) Go read it. Jesus speaks how Christians should be shining out like a city on a hill. How you should treat people respectfully, and not doing so is the equivalent of Murder. Give to anyone who asks. Love your enemies, not just those that you find worthy to receive your love. Give to the needy. Pray in secret. Fast. Don’t store up treasures on Earth.
Don’t worry about storing up treasures on earth. Don’t worry about clothes, food or the necessities of life. Don’t worry about money. Stop judging, and don’t worry about how you will live, ‘cause God will give you anything you ask for out of Love.
Interestingly, Jesus finishes up these very practical commands with the parable of the two builders. The foolish one built on sand, whereas the wise one built on rock. I think we all know which one was which in the story Jesus was talking about.
Any Christian reading this, please re-read the Sermon on the Mount. It will not even take you five minutes. Which foundation are you building on?
We have philosophical arguments against the Christian God. Historical problems, archeological problems, and severe methodological problems. We have inconsistencies, contradictions and things that simply don’t add up.
But one of the biggest problems, to me, is the pragmatic problem. Christians don’t live as if they really believe it, either. And any argument to the contrary has all the appearance of a hollow shell. We may be “wise” in the ways of the world, but we aren’t stupid. We recognize justification to defend the fact that Christians don’t pragmatically think Jesus really meant what he said.
The story (and possibly urban myth) is told of a time that Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart went into one of the stores in order to buy a fishing reel. The manager of the store, obviously knowing who he was, said to just take it and not worry about it. Mr. Walton insisted on paying for it. (And, I might add, knowing the personality of Mr. Walton, this would be very much in his character.)
Mr. Walton had no worries about whether the fishing reel would be provided.
Christians tell me that they are “foolish” because they believe in a God. A God that is the owner of Wal-Mart, Apple Computers, Microsoft, General Motors, Toyota, Honda, ExxonMobil, Samsung, Yamaha and Sony combined. A God that loves them, and will care for them, and has committed the ultimate sacrifice for them.
And then they stand right next to me in line, worried about having enough money to buy a newspaper.
Foolish? Or very wise indeed; since they, too, pragmatically are convinced there is no such God.
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)