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Foolish wise men
Missy Martens
by Missy Martens
January 18, 2021

Wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:1-2 ESV).

Wise men. Worshiping a toddler. A boy born in the tiny town of Bethlehem, still a bit unsteady on his presumably chubby little legs. No palace, no royal jammies. And yet these wise and learned men fell on their knees before him. Seems a bit . . . foolish. Why would the Magi—these wise men who were respected and honored and called upon for advice—why would these men follow a star to a shabby, little house and bow down on the dirty doorstep to praise a kid? Why would they humble themselves like that? Because they were fools for Christ.

This toddler would grow up a carpenter’s son, not a denarius to his name, and he would be mocked, spat upon, beaten, and then hung on a cross—a form of death reserved for the worst of the worst. But the wise ones would still bow down at his feet to worship him. Why? Because they were fools for Christ.

And after his death and resurrection, his followers would grow, and they would be willing to die in his name. They would leave positions of honor and status. They would face persecution daily, and yet they would speak the Word of God boldly. Why? Because they were fools for Christ.

Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight (1 Corinthians 3:18,19).

To be truly wise, we need to be more foolish . . . ah, but this is harder than it sounds. This might mean looking silly (giving frankincense to a two-year-old kind of silly) in front of others. In some areas of the world, this might mean prison or a death sentence. In America, this might mean we won’t fit in; we’ll be mocked or looked down upon. This might mean that we don’t gain as high a status at work. This will definitely mean “less me” and much, much more of Jesus. Being a fool for Christ sounds pretty countercultural. In a world where “you do you” and “me too” and “empowerment” and “pride” are the buzzwords of the day, humility and foolishness aren’t really things that we strive for and celebrate. And yet that’s what God tells us is needed.

It was needed in Corinth too; typical of the Greek culture, the Corinthians loved philosophy and placed a high premium on wisdom. Paul spends a good chunk of time in his letter to the Corinthians on the subject of wisdom and folly, and it turns out they had it all flip-flopped. Their worldly wisdom was folly, and, as C. K. Barrett said, “The wisdom of this world cannot be improved or developed to become the wisdom of God; it must be utterly abandoned.”

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. . . . We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. . . . But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:18,23-25,27-31).

Less me. More Him. Less worldly wisdom. More Godly foolishness.

More than ever, the Lord needs a few fools to risk ridicule and hatred to preach the good news to a “woke” world full of the wrong kind of wisdom. Follow the real wise men—look up, seek Jesus, knock on his door, bow down, and give him everything you have. Go be fools for Christ.