Thursday, September 25, 2008

Was Jesus an Idiot?

I have often quoted the book, "The Idiot" by Fydor Dostoyevsky as he uses the main character, Prince Myshkin, as a Christ figure. The problem with this character is that he sees the best in people and even when he knows they will take advantage of him, he offers his love, forgiveness, and grace. He was called the "Idiot" because he refused to play by the rules of the world and he continued to stick to his own convictions of kindness and love.

The parallels to the life of Christ are obvious but I do not think many of us really understand how counter culture this kind of living is even to this day. It doesn't make sense for people to allow others to abuse our trust and take advantage of our kindness towards them. We probably should not assume the best of others and offer grace when they need justice. It is probably more wise to approach people being skeptical and wary of their motives but is this the example Jesus left?

I personally have my share of imperfections (just ask my wife). I am a "dumbist", I am impatient, and I enjoy being negative as much as the next guy. But the one thing that ends up hurting me more than I would hope is that I genuinely think highly of people and expect the best from them. In my mind I assume that others are also gracious and kind and I get hurt when I realize that is not always the case.

Just this week I received an email from someone that really bothered me. Since returning to the area to begin a new church I have come with the foolish idea that our church is just one of many in the area and there is no need to feel a sense of competition against others. Because of this I have begun the process of contacting various pastors in the area to network and just to get to know them. To this point the response was positive and encouraging as other pastors welcomed me back to the area.

But this week I received a response from one who not only didn't want to meet but said some presumptuous and flat out hurtful things to me. He went on to say that I should never talk to him again. Since I never met this person I was shocked by the response and spent an hour fuming and telling myself that my worth is not found in this person (which it is not).

I realized that what bothered me the most is that I assumed the best of this person and I was enough of an idiot to believe that my offering a friendship is not a threat but rather it is a common courtesy to extend to another person. I completely cannot fathom why this pastor who does not know me would ever say the things he said to me and why anyone (especially someone who is supposed to model Jesus' life) would ever talk to another person the way he did. Needless to say, my first response was not to offer grace or forgiveness to this person and my god complex reared its head as I wanted to help this person see the cruelty of his response.

Then I realized that the way of Jesus is to not be altered by the ways of mankind and no amount of misdirected emotion against me is worth causing me to see this person as less of a bearer of the image of God. The ways of Jesus are to forgive even when He knows we will take advantage of the forgiveness. I am certainly not comparing myself with Jesus and I am not saying that I am completely okay with the response I received. I am simply saying that I want to be an idiot like Jesus who takes these things and lets them go. I want to follow my Savior and remain committed to my own ideals rather than be affected and influenced by the ideals of others. It is not easy, it doesn't feel natural, but I know that I would rather be an idiot than follow the patterns of the world. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:25, "God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength". Pray that I have the strength to be an idiot like Jesus.


Perry Hamilton said...

Now I'm fuming too... but grace is the correct response. None of us know what has occurred in the past that would elicit such a response, and of course, evangelicals are highly territorial. You are called to do what Christ has set before you. Keep that in the forefront of your prayers and your mind.


Sara said...

Perry - thank you for your kindness - after a year in the middle east our family got accustomed to adversity from people of other faiths but it is never easy to find it in other followers of Christ. We are a family of idealists who desire to see the broken Body of Christ pieced back together. It is people like you who God uses to give us the strength to continue to pursue that and to not give up hope.

jacquelyn said...

i came to your blog through derek, but i do not know you. i just wanted to let you know that this writing really encouraged me. i have been treated similarly by believers and unbelievers. thanks for the perspective.

Ryan said...

Perry- Thanks for the encouragement and for hanging out the other day.

Sara- You are right as usual.

Jacquelyn- Thanks for dropping by. I am glad you were encouraged.