The philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once told a story about a circus that caught fire. The flames from the circus fire spread to the fields surrounding the circus grounds and began to burn toward the village below. The circus master, convinced that the village would be destroyed and the people killed unless they were warned, asked if there was anybody who could go to the village and warn the people. The clown, dressed in full costume, jumped onto a bicycle and sped down the hill to the village below.
“Run for your lives! Run for your lives! A fire is coming and the village is going to burn!” he shouted as he rode up and down the streets of the village.
Curious villagers came out from their houses and shops and stood on the sidewalks. They shouted back at the clown, laughing and applauding his performance. The more desperately the clown shouted, the more the villagers cheered.
The village burned and the loss of life was great because no one took the clown seriously. After all, he was just a clown.
Have you ever felt like that clown? We Christians carry a similar warning, but often we are laughed at. God chose us clowns to be messengers of eternal urgency. If you have felt dismissed in this way, you are in good company. The Apostle Paul wrote these words almost two thousand years ago:
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”
So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.
But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.
1Corinthians 1:18-25 (New Living Translation)
Perhaps one of our biggest struggles as Christians of the Western World is fear of looking ridiculous to our agnostic, atheist, and pagan friends as we talk about our faith in Jesus—yet that is the way God has ordained for them to find out about His great love for them. Every conversation, even every mention of His name is like a seed that goes down into their hearts. We don’t know how long the seeds will lie there, dormant, but they will spring up. That’s God’s work. Ours is to look foolish as we talk about the wonders (read: preach) of life in Christ.
May the Lord encourage us,