My brother and I sometimes laugh about the word “fool,” because it is so potent and descriptive, and we can all relate to it to one extent or another. To me, the essence of a fool is not someone without understanding, but without the ability or willingness to be corrected and to gain understanding.1 In that way, foolishness is empowered by pride. If you are on the wrong path but refuse to even consider another way or receive correction, what hope is there for you? Until you are humbled, there is none. A few weeks ago, I came across this clip from the TV show “The Office.” While funny, the catch is that a true fool or “idiot” wouldn’t genuinely stop and reconsider their ways to begin with, and many life their entire natural life in such a foolish state, with some calling it righteousness, others “reason.”
What I really want to explore is the idea that the ways of God/the Spirit are and always will be foolish to the “world” (meaning all that has its origin in Adam through the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil). On a practical level, this means that if you are walking in the Spirit, in righteousness, and loving your neighbor as yourself, your actions and values will very often appear foolish, both to others and even to (the rational/soulish/fleshly part of) yourself! Decisions and actions which don’t take self into account in any way seem foolish to everyone and everything outside of the Spirit and love. But read the scriptures below, especially Jesus’ words, and you’ll see that to love, you have to be “foolish.” As I’ve said many times, the way of self/Adam/the flesh/the world is always selfish at its core, in one way or another.
Elaborating further, I’m convinced that the ways of God/Spirit do not take self into account at all. Scripture attests quite plainly that in the eyes and mind of God/Spirit, self (also called Adam or flesh or soul or the natural man or the old man or the world) is dead, irrelevant, crucified, put out of sight and out of mind. This isn’t to say self/flesh doesn’t still have some place within us or exert an influence on the earth, it just means they have no influence or effect on the Spirit. The Spirit doesn’t reward good flesh, punish bad flesh, or have any other “response” to flesh – it bypasses flesh totally because flesh is dead. In this way, the law has no claim on a son of God. Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t smite us right away when we “sin,” or clearly reward us when we’re doing good? God doesn’t relate to us based on our religious devotion or lack thereof.
The apostle Paul has a reputation as intellectual, deep, blunt and harsh, all of which are true. But, if you read his letters closely, you’ll see he was also first and foremost a man of deep love. For example*:
(1 Corinthians 4:10-13): “We (those sent by God) are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You have honor, but we have dishonor. Even to this present hour we hunger, thirst, are naked, are beaten, and have no certain dwelling place. We toil, working with our own hands. When people curse us, we bless. Being persecuted, we endure. Being defamed, we entreat. We are made as the filth of the world, the dirt wiped off by all, even until now.”
(Ephesians 5:1-2): “Be therefore imitators of God, as beloved children. Walk in love, even as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling fragrance.”
(Romans 12:10, Romans 13:8, 1 Corinthians 16:14, Galatians 5:13-14, Colossians 3:12-14)
- “In love of the brothers be tenderly affectionate one to another; in honor preferring one another…”
- “…owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”
- “…Let all that you do be done in love.”
- “…For you, brothers, were called for freedom. Only don’t use your freedom for gain to the flesh, but through love be servants to one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
- “…Put on therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, humility, and perseverance; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, if any man has a complaint against any; even as Christ forgave you, so you also do. Above all these things, walk in love, which is the bond of perfection.”