(a Lection Reflection on Mark 3 and 2 Corinthians 4:13 – 5:1)
Yes, that’s a provocative title — as in, for most people it provokes an immediate response. Based on recent incidents reported in the media, the response “hell yes” certainly might be appropriate. Nary a week goes by that I don’t hear or read something said or done by someone calling themselves “Christian” that doesn’t elicit a silent SMH from me.
If you look beyond the easily-found inanities of some of our fellow humans, though, I think there is a deeper point here, and it is this:
If “being crazy” means seeing things that aren’t there, then people of faith are called to be “crazy.”
Let me be clear. I’m not calling for Christians to be delusional, or psychotic, or any other form of mental or emotional dysfunction. But when we look at this week’s lections, we see multiple examples where the person of faith could see and understand things that the rest of the world could not see and did not understand.
Start with the obvious one, the Mark 3 passage. Jesus is teaching, and healing, and calling disciples. He’s causing a stir, and already antagonizing the powers that be. His friends and family come to get him and take him home by force, because they assume he has lost touch with reality in some way.
Has he? Has Jesus “gone crazy,” to use the vernacular? Or does following the calling of God sometimes look crazy to those watching?
Or how about Paul writing to the Christians at Corinth? Look at his comments about afflictions in this current life, and about death itself:
For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
“We look not at what can be seen, but at what cannot be seen.” How can you “look” at something that cannot be seen? We are so used to hearing or reading these words that the impact of them is lost: People of faith are able to see the truly permanent things of this world, and are not distracted by that which will ultimately not matter.
A corollary of this is also important: People of faith are called to have different values, because we see this world through God Eyes.
Look at Jesus. At the beginning of Mark 3, he heals on the Sabbath, because he sees the true meaning of Sabbath and isn’t distracted by the human rules around it. Surely some saw that as “not making sense.”
When he was told that his mother and brothers were outside, he swept his hands over the crowd and said “Anyone who does the will of my Father is my brother, my sister, and my mother.” Don’t you think that some thought to themselves “that’s just crazy talk.”
Turn the other cheek. Give your cloak also. Forgive seventy times seven. I could go on and on, but you get the point: Our value system is sometimes going to look out of touch with reality to other people who do not share it.
But there’s one more point to make.
There is a difference between seeing the world differently because we look through God Eyes, and acting bizarrely because we are trying to prove how different we really are. It’s a nuance that I’m not sure I’m describing well, but is somewhat captured by a statement I heard many years ago in a Bible study: “I called you to be different. I didn’t call you to be weird.”
Our value system is going to sometimes run against the grain of this world. Believing in a God of love and grace will sometimes make us look “crazy” to others. Acting on those beliefs, caring for the least of these, will make us look even more crazy. Let us be sure that we are seeing our world as God sees it, then let us act in God’s love, even though it may look as if we are out of tough with reality. The truth is, we will be in touch with the most real reality there is.
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What about you? What examples can you share of calling that looks crazy on the outside?