Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Are Christians Insane?

by Pastor Paul Wolff

The Sower sowing the seed
Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.” (Matthew 13:1-9)

“Insanity is when you keep doing the same thing and expect different results.” This is one of many pithy sayings that unbelievers in the church use to discredit Holy Scripture as the only source and norm of doctrine. This saying is assumed to be true and rarely questioned. I suppose whoever questions the validity of this proverb is also assumed to be insane. However, with people’s short attention span these days many only hear the first part of the saying which goes, “Insanity is when you keep doing the same thing.”

Jesus teaching from the boat
What does Jesus say? “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Baptizing and teaching aren’t new. They are the same wonderful things that have been leading people to follow Christ into heavenly Paradise for thousands of years now, but the world says that to make disciples by baptizing and teaching is insane.

What else does Jesus say? In the parable of the Sower (above), Jesus does one thing: sow the seed of the Word; yet this one action brings about at least two, and as many as four different results. For the sake of argument let’s assume the seeds that fall on the path, and among the rocks, and among the weeds all lead to the same result, which is death, or unbelief according to Christ’s interpretation of the parable (Matthew 13:18-23). Those who quote the “insanity proverb” above say it is impossible that one thing (such as proclaiming the Gospel of Christ) can have two different results (such as belief and unbelief). They would say that the only possible result is unbelief because that is their experience. They do not believe the Gospel so they are unable to believe that the “Gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16)

The Word of God is powerful. It works to bring life to unbelievers simply through their hearing the message: “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17) The world (and worldly unbelievers in the church) think that because they have taken the opportunity to reject the blessings of the Gospel that the Gospel is weak, and because they have resisted the “power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” they think they are more powerful than Christ Himself. This is one of the reasons why false teaching is so seductive. Yet to all who believe the Word of God they have full forgiveness, life and eternal salvation for Christ is the Word who has redeemed us through His life and death. Let the world call us insane. Sooner or later the world will know that the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom. (1 Corinthians 1:25)

The birds eating the seed
Disclaimer: The pejorative reference to insanity above is in no way intended to impugn those who, by illness or injury (physical or emotional), are not on a first-name basis with reality. I have the greatest respect for those who struggle with mental illness and yet who continue to trust in Christ Jesus for their forgiveness and salvation.

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