Thursday, March 31, 2016

Faith & Foolishness

"They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country;and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan. Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size." Numbers 13:26-32

Have you been caught in a April Fool's prank yet?

Have you pulled one on someone else?

On this April's Fool Day 2016 I thought I would spend some time focusing on the thin line between faith and foolishness. That line is very thin, so much so that it is often hard to discern the difference.

This story in Numbers 13 illustrates that point in real time!

God, through Moses, had led His people OUT of Egypt and THROUGH the wilderness and was preparing to lead them INTO Canaan, the land He promised to Abraham 600 years earlier. More recently God had reaffirmed that promise to Moses.

Prior to crossing into Canaan Moses decided to send twelve spies ahead to spy out the land for 40 days. These spies, one from each tribe of Israel, came back with their intelligence report.

They had each spent the same amount of time searching out the same territory and seeing essentially the same things. But ten of them came to a dramatically different conclusion that the other two.

Caleb and Joshua came back with the faith perspective. "Yes, there are mighty people in the land but there are great spoils to be had and God can give this land to us!"

But the other ten spies represented the opposite viewpoint. While they agreed this was a land filled with prosperity and potential it seemed to them like a foolish idea to attack the giants occupying the land.

Here are two very differing versions of what constituted faith and what qualified as foolish. These were all good men. They had been hand-picked by Moses but drew the line at very different places. 

History recorded that Caleb and Joshua were right but at the time their conclusion was judged to be foolish. So rather than cross into the Promised Land the people of God cringed at the giants and for 40 years they wandered in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan.

I share this account because those of us from FredWes find ourselves at a similar place in our journey. God has led us to the verge of our preferred future and there will be moments when separating faith from foolish could get a little foggy.

Apparently, this has been an issue with God's people throughout the ages because Paul addresses it with the Church at Corinth in the opening chapter of his letter to them:

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God —that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”  I Corinthians 1:18-31

I think this Scripture provides several insights that could have benefited the ten spies and can give some guidance to us!

What is God's will in this matter?

God had made it clear to Moses and through Moses that He intended to lead them into the Promised Land to conquer it. In fact, He had promised to give it to them.

What is God's wisdom in this matter?

If you know God's will then you have the inside track on His wisdom. Whatever lines up with His will is wise to Him and to us. In fact, if it seems foolish to us it is probably His way of calling us to faith!

What has been God's way in this matter?

A third factor in discerning between faith and foolishness is to observe how God has led you to this point. Have there been points along the way that seemed foolish at the time? At what points were faith required to get us to where we are now? Where would we be if we had done what seemed right to us at the time? 

We know that God's way is not our way so it will sound foolish when we first become aware of it, right?

We also know that God's way is to glorify Himself through us! He may do it through our faith or He may do it in spite of our foolishness!

FredWes, as we move forward to our destiny let's learn from these lines of demarcation - what is God's will, what is God's wisdom and what has been God's way! That will keep us on the footsteps of faith and off the path of foolishness!