Getting to know Your Neighbors
Naming Names

The Mad Hatter Calls

Madhatter If the world is sane, then Jesus is mad as a hatter and the Last Supper is the Mad Tea Party.  The world says, Mind your own business, and Jesus says, There is no such thing as your own business.  The world says, Follow the wisest course and be a success, and Jesus says, Follow me and be crucified.  The world says, Drive carefully -- the life you save may be your own -- and Jesus says, Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.  The world says Law and order, and Jesus says, Love.  The world says Get and Jesus says, Give.  In terms of the world's sanity, Jesus is crazy as a coot, and anybody who thinks he can follow him without being a little crazy too is laboring less under a cross than under a delusion.

(Frederick Buechner, in The Faces of Jesus)

There are plenty of fools around but not many who are truly fools for Christ (1 Cor. 4:10).  Define "fool" how you will but none of the definitions are pretty.  Lacking judgment.  Stupid.  Weak-minded.  Idiotic.  What a wild thing to say -- that we are idiots for Christ, that we follow him without judgment, without thinking twice, without counting the cost, that we are love-struck (in the stupid kind of way), that we are heedless of danger.  That we are fools -- for Jesus.  That is what the Apostle Paul is saying and God knows he was a fool.

I don't know about you, but I am seldom if ever a fool for Christ.  I am careful.  I drive carefully, generally act prudently, and I mind my own business (and so should you).  I think before I give (as I did today).  I like my universe well-ordered, please.  There is little cost to reputation for me to follow Christ.  I am simply not crazy enough for Him that people notice and talk about me behind my back (as in "tsk, tsk, he's a little nutty that one, a bit of a fanatic").

In fact, the last time I did something really crazy was. . . was. . . well, was back in college, I guess.  No, that wasn't crazy for Christ, that was just plain stupid now that I think of it and stupid is just plain stupid and not redeemed if not stupid for Christ.

I've spent time with some crazy people( in the legal system, not at home), and you know what?  They can say the sanest if most inappropriate and socially awkward things.  If an intelligent man who appears in full possession of his faculties calmly tells me that he is Jesus Christ or that the people in the television are talking to him, I look down for a moment, inwardly smile a smile of pity, and tell myself that he is insane and knows no better, that he is delusional.  And then the next minute he may speak the most beautiful truth in the world and I begin to wonder if maybe the elasticity of his brain has made him more open to truth in some way.  I've met some Christians who fall into the category of "fools for Christ" and you know what?  They're scary.  They have to be.   You begin to wonder whether if you hang out with them some of that craziness will wear off on you and when you go home to visit your parents they'll wonder what kind of people you've been associating with.  They say inappropriate things.  They are not prudent.  They speak the truth, and the truth is unsettling to ordinary religious folk.

The Mad Hatter is calling.  I need to get close but I'm a little scared to get close to this crazy coot.  I have an invitation to His party and I'm afraid of what might happen if I really go and stay awhile.  Only fools rush in, only fools for Christ.  So will I go?  Will you go?  What will it take to push us off the edge?  When will we learn that life "through the looking glass" is normal and that this world is the abnormal, deluded one?

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