The Faith of a "Fool"

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, April 1, 2015 0 comments
by Logan Ames

Has anyone gotten you good yet today? Did you get a fake spider or a bucket of ice water in your shower? Was your office “redecorated” in some fashion? Did someone deliver some bad news only to exclaim “April Fools” after you bought it hook, line, and sinker? If you haven’t been “fooled” yet, you might be one of those people who goes through the day looking over your shoulder. This day of fooling one another for sheer amusement certainly has no roots in the Bible. But the word “fool” is in there many times, and it generally refers to much more than simply falling for a trick.

In the Bible, a “fool” is generally someone who either lacks morals or lives in such a way that they go against logic. Some translations of the Old Testament passages where the word “folly” is used even say “stupidity." The problem is that logic and morality look differently for the world than for followers of Christ. What seems logical for those who trust in God and walk by faith seems illogical to those who can only believe as far as they can see, and vice versa. As Paul says it in 1 Corinthians 3:19, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight." Someone who appears to be well-educated and wise based on worldly philosophies is still considered foolish if he has no faith in God. The world takes the opposite view. If you put all your faith, hope, and trust in the Lord even when he asks you to do something seemingly crazy, the world will point their collective finger at you, laugh, and say you’re a fool.

If you are willing to stand firm in faith when it appears to be foolish to the world, you will follow in the footsteps of Abraham. Take a look at Romans 4:13-25. In this passage, you see that Paul continues his explanation of Abraham’s justification that came through faith and not mere works. Paul continues from the previous section, declaring that Abraham is not just the father of the Jews, but also all those who believe. In verse 16, he says that the promise from God is guaranteed by grace to “not only those who are of the law but also those who have the faith of Abraham." The idea of salvation and justification coming by grace and through faith is a common theme of Paul’s letters. He makes virtually the same argument in Ephesians 2:8-9, adding that these things do not come from ourselves, so that we have no reason to boast. This is where faith has to begin, knowing that we can’t get what we need on our own.

Abraham’s story is lengthy, but Paul didn’t need to go through the whole thing because he was addressing mostly Jews, who considered Abraham basically one step below God Almighty. However, if you are not familiar with Abraham’s story of faith, I strongly encourage you to go back and read it in the Book of Genesis. In short, God told Abraham to leave his father’s household and his people and go to a new land where God would make his name great and make him into a great nation (Genesis 12:1-4). This is why the land where Israel is still currently located today would be commonly known as the Promised Land. It was promised first to Abraham if he obeyed, but that wouldn’t be easy. As time went on and Abraham had no children, he began to wonder if what God had said would come true (15:2-3). God then reaffirmed the promise, but made Abraham wait again. After some time, his wife convinces him to sleep with her servant girl since she was barren and couldn’t bear him children. That mistake leads to a lot of family dysfunction, but Abraham continues in his relationship with God even though he had doubts.

Even after Abraham and his wife disobey, God is gracious and promises to them again that they will have a son (17:15-16). Abraham literally LAUGHS at the notion that a son could be born to he and his wife in their extremely old age, but God tells him it will happen the following year and that they will name him “Isaac,” which literally means “he laughs." Everything happens just as God says it would (21:1-3), so Abraham learns a valuable lesson that God can do the impossible. He can do what human beings cannot. He can choose to work in a way that is beyond human comprehension. It is not foolish to believe God can do it, but a fool is one who says that because he can’t understand how God would do it, it must not be possible. Abraham may have acted foolishly at times, but he grew in his faith as he saw what God did.

The trials of faith continued even after Isaac was born, most notably in Genesis 22 when God commanded Abraham to go and sacrifice Isaac as a burnt offering to the Lord. This would have seemed crazy to Abraham because God had promised him that it would be “through Isaac” that he would become the father of many nations. It was as if God had made Abraham a promise, forced him to wait for a very long time before he began to see the promise come to fruition, then told him to go and kill the promise. It was only a test, but Abraham didn’t know that. He had this great promise, but he needed to learn the difference between trusting in the promise and trusting the Promiser. This is foolishness to the world, and even to many believers! We get so wrapped up in what we believe, or even what we know that God told us, that we forget who is in control. Because Abraham had learned his earlier lessons in faith, he didn’t hesitate to follow God’s seemingly crazy orders. Paul explains that Abraham “did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God” about being the father of many nations, and that he was “fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:20-21). The same can be said regarding his willingness to sacrifice Isaac. It wasn’t that Abraham no longer believed God’s original promise, but that he figured he was better off trusting in God’s overall plan. Regarding Abraham’s faith in that most difficult of circumstances, the writer of Hebrews says, “Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead” (Hebrews 11:19). If Abraham were judged by the intellectuals of his time, he likely would have been considered a lunatic and a fool.

Do you detect a theme in the passages shared above? Genesis 22 shows that Abraham had no doubt God would show up, even if he slaughtered his own son. He told the servants that he and Isaac would both come back to them after they worship, knowing part of that worship was killing his son. He told Isaac that God would provide the lamb for the burnt offering. He was sure of these things. Paul said he was “fully persuaded” and “did not waiver." Hebrews says that Abraham “reasoned” that God could raise the dead. These phrases show logic and understanding, not blind faith. Abraham was certain of what God could do because he had already seen him at work. Hebrews 11:3 says that our basis for such faith is our “understanding that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." If God can do that, what can’t he do? Abraham knew that the answer to that question is NOTHING!

This Sunday, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have history on our side, which gives us even more of a reason to believe God can raise the dead and do many other things we are struggling to believe he can do. Abraham “reasoned” this about God many thousands of years before Christ was indeed resurrected. Was it foolish? Absolutely not. He knew what God could do before anyone had seen or even thought of it, but he was later proven to be correct. What are you struggling to believe about God and his plans for your life? Go ahead and trust him. Maybe even take some steps of faith if you KNOW you have heard from him. Others, even those with good intentions, may try to steer you another direction and you might even be called a “fool” if you don’t listen. But you can see from your life how the only foolishness is NOT trusting and following God. Put your faith in him today and be a fool for the Lord!

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