Do you ever get so into a story that you find yourself yelling at the characters? When watching a show on television do you suddenly start yelling at the girl, “Don’t forgive him! He’s cheated on you three times already! He’s just going to break your heart again!” When reading that book do you shake your head and say, “Don’t offer them any help they’re just going to use you and you’ll probably end up dead.” Do you shout at the movie, “Don’t trust him!” or “Are you crazy don’t go in there!”
I often find myself yelling at the television screen or getting personally involved in books. I think, “what a fool!” and just hope things work out by the end of the book. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. If you haven’t ever tried it, try reading the Bible like you would read a classic of literature. Have the characters ever affected you the same way a character from Dickens has or from your favorite movie? There are some truly amazing characters in the Bible that can move you if you let them. There is, however, one character I get so angry with so often. I cannot believe the way this character acts and you would think he would know better and eventually learn. I find myself shouting, “You’re being foolish don’t you know this is going to turn out bad?” I read and I can’t help but think, “You’re not really going to forgive them again are you, don’t you remember what happened last time?” But God forgives the Israelites for their unfaithfulness, their idolatry, and their wickedness again, and a few pages later the Israelites have once again forgotten all about God. “Told you so!” I say. This goes on for quite a bit in the book. I don’t want to spoil the story if you haven’t read it, but you might get frustrated over the foolishness of this main character. He (though God is neither a he nor she but we really ought to create a new pronoun) helps those you know are not going to be grateful. He again and again forgives the unfaithful and invites them to come back to Him only for them to run off again. He even humbles Himself to the point of taking on human flesh and living among these ungrateful people. He becomes one of them! How foolish is that? Then, Jesus, God incarnate starts causing all sorts of problems. You read what he’s doing and you shout at him, “You’re going to get yourself killed!” He can’t hear you or he ignores you, you’re not completely certain. You read on, he’s fraternizing with tax collectors. Unbelievable! He’s eating with prostitutes and lepers. Doesn’t he know those are unclean people? He just touched a corpse, which is supposed to make him unclean. This is foolishness. Then Jesus goes into Samaria of all places and talks with a woman of ill repute and the next thing you know he starts hanging out with Gentiles. He is committing every social faux pas there is. He claims to speak with authority, he claims to have wisdom from on high, but all you see if foolishness. Anyone can see Judas is going to betray him. It isn’t nearly as tricky as watching an episode of CSI. You try to warn him but Jesus doesn’t seem to care. He even kneels down and washes Judas’s feet. What a fool! I hate to spoil the ending if you haven’t read it but this Jesus character ends up dying despite being able to save himself. He ends up dying to save all those who have treated him so badly. Can you believe it? There is unbelievable foolishness in the Bible: a God who loves despite repeated unfaithfulness and a Christ who cares nothing for social standards or his own well being, but only cares about others. He says, “turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, give the shirt off your back.” He doesn’t even think what would happen if people actually did all that. It’s foolishness. He dies and he descends into hell, for dirty, unfaithful, arrogant, rebellious people like Peter and Judas…for people like you and like me. How utterly foolish. Can you imagine a world where people bought into this? Can you imagine a world where people lived according to how this God operates? Can you imagine a worldly wisdom so foolish? Can you imagine a world so foolish? It’d be beautiful wouldn’t it?