I think there is some irony in the fact that being a follower of Jesus is considered “typical” and “normal” in our culture. During Jesus’ ministry and in the early church, being a disciple of Christ put a person at odds with the world – oftentimes in ways that put believers at serious risk. Jesus, who was never afraid to speak truth to power, inspired his disciples to live lives contrary to the values of the world.
I once heard someone say Jesus “lived right side up in an upside down world.” But you might say it was in his genes. The history of Israel is filled with people who didn’t fit in. For instance, the very first ones to make a covenant with God were Abraham and Sarah. They were two people who had the ridiculous notion that even though they were in their nineties, God was calling them to leave their home, wander off to a new land, and start a new nation! Or how about King David as a boy, standing up to Goliath with nothing but a slingshot and a rock?
From beginning to the end, Israel’s history is filled with people who defied the logic and common sense of the world. And, of course, God’s craziness reached its apex in the person of Jesus. Even though he was born out of the kingly line of David, he actually arrived as the son of a poor carpenter and a young girl who claimed to be a virgin even though she was pregnant. And throughout Jesus’ unpredictable life, he did and said many things that seemed to be crazy until his last and perhaps craziest act of all – death on the cross.
For many years, the cross was a problem for the early church for this very reason. To put it in more modern terms, the cross was lousy PR. As Paul said, it was a stumbling block to the Jews (many of whom would never believe that the Messiah could actually be executed like a common criminal) and it was just plain foolishness to the Gentiles (which was everyone else). But, as Paul exclaims in 1 Corinthians, “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”
Jesus reminds us that the world as we know it is upside down. The question is… are you brave enough to live a life that is right-side up – even when that might make you look like a little crazy to those who are still upside down?
Join us for worship this Sunday as we explore further Jesus’ call to live faithful lives in a world that often pulls us in other directions.