For love of the world, God did foolish things. As you can imagine, I have thought a lot about this over the past couple of weeks and I find myself asking some challenging questions as a result. Who are the witnesses whom our “foolish God” (1 Cor. 1:25) has sent to proclaim the message of good news?
Slaves become chosen people
First I think of the slaves that became a chosen people, and I wonder who are the slaves today who are God’s chosen ones. Are they those enslaved in the sex trade? Are they the children enslaved to grow coffee and tea or mine diamonds and gold? It’s easy to get irate at these forms of slavery and imagine that God wants to create chosen people of these marginalized ones.
Then, however, I think of those who are enslaved in poverty because of our desire for cheap goods and services — the farmers who often get only a pittance for their produce, the minimum wage earners who do not earn a living wage without working two or sometimes three jobs, the factory workers in China who often work in even worse conditions. I wonder, how long will their cries for freedom rise as prayers before God until they are set free? I wonder, too, what I can do to help them break out of their slavery. As I walk through Lent this year, I wonder: Are there ways that I can become a spokesperson for people on the margins whose poverty I contribute to by my consumer choices?
Despised are the best advocates
Next I think of the shepherds, the despised in their society whose testimony was not admissible in court, and I wonder who are the despised today whose voices we do not listen to. Are they the homeless living in increasing numbers on our streets? Or possibly the indigenous people whose voices have been silenced in so many of our countries. Or are they the children crying out against yet another gun massacre here in the U.S.? What can I do to make sure I listen to the possibly exciting news about God they are wanting to proclaim?
Not surprisingly, my next set of witnesses that our “foolish God” sends are the wise men, foreigners from a distant land. They too challenge me to expand my vision— Who are the foreigners? Immigrants, those of other faiths or other races. Who are the foreigners kept out by walls — maybe not a physical wall like the one being built between the U.S. and Mexico, or excluded by the walls in my mind that tell me these foreigners are not worth listening to? How can I educate myself more effectively about their viewpoints and build bridges, not walls?
Forgotten ones come first
Next I am reminded of the women who were the first witnesses to Christ’s resurrection. We so easily forget them or disparage them, especially Mary Magdalene. She has been so maligned over the centuries. Instead of the awe due to the one who was the first witness to the risen Lord, we condemn her as a prostitute. Whom do we misjudge today? Are they people of other sexual orientations whose viewpoints we are closed to, on whom we heap condemnation? Are they the poor whom we condemn by fallaciously saying “they don’t work hard enough”? Or are they those in prison, gang members, drug addicts? We all have our lists of “condemned” people, those we want to keep hidden in our society. How can we make sure their stories are listened to with acceptance and love?
“Can any good come out of Galilee?” the religious leaders say when Jesus comes on the scene. I am sure they kept saying it when Galilean fishermen became the leaders of this new movement too. Our “foolish God” has always chosen unlikely leaders, people that most of the world would reject as uneducated, irreligious, unworthy. God takes such people and molds them into a new community. How, too, can I be open to God’s unlikely leaders and look not to the rich and powerful but to the marginalized and the poor who are God’s primary spokespeople?
As I continue to walk through Lent, I am asking myself what new practices I should take on in order to be open to the “foolishness of God” in choosing people like me and you, the poor and the marginalized, the forgotten and the foreigners. I am looking for new ways to engage the unlikely people of God all around me.
Christine Sine is co-founder, along with her husband, Tom Sine, of Mustard Seed Associates, a small organization to assist churches and Christian organizations to engage the challenges of the 21st century. She writes at Godspace, where this post originally appeared.