Friday, October 03, 2008

Common Absurdity

"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God...we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.
-Paul in his letter to the church in Corinth

Paul wrote this 2000 years ago, yet the message remains the same today in contemporary America. We preach Christ crucified. We preach that God Himself became flesh and lived 33 years among all that Hecreated. We preach that He willingly went to His death on that cross. And we preach that Christ crucified is also Christ risen, that three days after His death on the cross, Jesus actually rose from the dead and is still alive today, reigning in heaven.

How absurd, right?

Just as the word of the cross was folly in Paul's day, those who cry "folly" and "absurdity" remain today. Just as our message hasn't changed in 2000 years, the response hasn't either.

The indictment is first on the person who actually believes that telling me, "what you believe about Jesus is absurd and foolish," is some kind of new truth, as if this hasn't been a part of what means to be a Christian for the last two millenia. Bill Maher's new documentary isn't bringing to light anything revelatory. Mature Christians know how the story sounds, but we also hold that "the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Cor. 1:25).

But the indictment also falls on the unthinking, unmeditative Christian, which unfortunately is a large sum of our population. Do you ever stop to think about what the Christian story entails? Do you ever stop to think that you believe God actually became a man and lived on earth? Do you ever stop to meditate on the implications of Jesus dying on the cross? Do you ever dwell on the fact that if you say you are a Christian you say that a man who died rose from the dead three days later?

What has happened with Christianity in America is what I call "common absurdity," this phenomena where so many people claim Christianity that because it is so widely accepted and ingrained in culture the commonness of the absurdity actually makes it blindly accepted by most without giving second thought. Thus we can live in a so-called "Christian culture" with no Christ, because just as the absurdity becomes commonplace, so does the claim that Jesus was crucified, was buried, rose from the dead, and reigns on high forever and ever. It's like saying, "Yeah, Jesus rose from the dead...now can you please pass the salt?" The gospel is no longer the power of God.

This "common absurdity" is a big issue that I think directly effects our courage to share the truly powerful gospel boldly and courageously.

I just ask for those see our message as folly to come up with something better than that; it's an old tactic that when pressed only caused the Spirit to grow the church more. And for those who claim to revel in the foolishness of God--this includes me--I ask that we take the time each day to think and meditate on God's foolishness--and rejoice in gladness at the risen, exalted Jesus Christ who has rescued us from sin, Satan, death, and hell, boldly proclaiming this message of rescue, redemption, and resurrection to the world!

By His Grace.

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