Wednesday, March 30, 2011

God's Own April Fool

April Fools Day is honestly one of the best days to be on the internet. Many of the companies whose services I use are fond of elaborate pranks, which always turn out to be entertaining. Google is particularly good at this. One year, Gmail lost all it's vowels. Another, they were starting an internet service that would run cable through the sewers and up through your toilet. Google Documents promised you could upload anything you wanted to their storage servers, including your keys and furniture you needed to move across town. Youtube set all their Featured videos one year to run Rick Astley's hit “Never Gonna Give You Up” instead. Car and Driver Magazine's site one year claimed President Obama had pulled funding for NASCAR. I imagine by the time this is published, there will be some other goodies to add to the list.

April Fool's may seem an odd thing for a pastor to write about. But when you think about it, maybe it is appropriate. Scripture tells us that “The joy of the Lord is our strength,” (Neh 8:10) “A joyful heart is good medicine,” (Prov 17:22) and that “The wisdom of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.” (1 Cor 1:18) And of course, my old friend Steve's favorite...”If we are out of our minds, it is for the sake of our Lord.” (2 Cor 5:13)

Philip Yancey wrote in his book The Jesus I Never Knew about a figure he called the Prozac Jesus. This is the Jesus who appears in most movies. He's calm, serene, tranquil, British (why are they always British?), and acts like He's had all emotions except peace stripped from Him somehow.

Michael Card, in his song “God's Own Fool,” paints a better picture of Christ, and I think a more accurate one:

It seems I've imagined Him all of my life

As the wisest of all of mankind

But if God's holy wisdom is foolish to man

He must of seemed out of His mind

Even His family said he was mad

And the priests said a demon's to blame

But God in the form of this angry young man

Could not have seemed perfectly sane.

The problem comes when we start to imitate the Prozac Christ, rather than the real one. We get it in our heads that true worship is calm, serene, “reverent” (meaning quiet, inexpressive). I have had some great opportunities to worship with other ethnicities than my own, and other denominations as well. I've been able to pray with Koreans, worship with Hispanics, and listen to numerous African-American preachers. One of the best worship experiences I ever had was at a concert of the Christian rock band Third Day, when they were still new enough to be playing skating rinks. I have become increasingly convinced, after these experiences, that us Northern-European-Americans just don't let our joy and exuberance out enough! Energizing songs like “Days of Elijah” become the exception, not the norm, of our worship experience. An enthusiastic youth jumping up to dance to a praise songs elicits raised eyebrows, rather than inspiring the rest of us to join in.

Jesus could not have seemed normal, mundane, ordinary, if people were making accusations of drunkenness and demon possession to explain his behavior, or that of the early apostles for that matter. So come be a fool for Christ, and let His Joy invade every bone in your body. I think you'll find your faith stronger for it.

Blessings on your journey!