Saint Francis of Assisi was one of the greatest blessings to Christianity. He once said this, then lived it out;
“I prefer you not talk to me about any other rule, nor recommend any other ideas or manner of life, than that which the Lord in his mercy has given to me. He told me I am to be a new kind of fool in this world.”
Francis, “Rule of the Fool” in all its simplicity turned the world upside down. Francis simply obeyed Jesus for the rest of his life and in the process, returned to the gospel with such force that it shook the entire Christian world.
“But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” Matthew 7:26
So, what does a Christian fool look like? 500 years after Francis, the Order of the Mustard Seed was founded by a young nobleman and his friends at a boys’ school in Europe. This group of courageous young men saw their order as a kind of spiritual order of knighthood, not dedicated to personal honor, or self-advancement, but to radical service to Jesus their king.
They had three rules and a motto that summarized them.
Their Motto: None live for themselves.
Their order became such fools for Christ that they formed a prayer movement that had people praying 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for more than 100 years! Some of their members actually sold themselves into slavery in the Caribbean, in order to bring the gospel to slaves.
That got me thinking, what must Jesus think of Christians today, including me? I have never shown anywhere near that level of devotion to God. I was reminded of these words from Jesus.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:13-14, 21
These verses are not there just for information about other people. They are a warning. “Few” will enter into the kingdom of Heaven. We modern day Christians are confident we will enter Heaven because we’ve “trusted Jesus” whatever that means. Dallas Willard, one of the most influential Christian thinkers of our time said this in The Divine Conspiracy.
“They (Christians today) have been led to believe that God, for some unfathomable reason, just thinks it’s appropriate to transfer credit from Christ’s merit account to ours and wipe out our sin debt, upon inspecting our minds and finding that we believe a particular theory of the atonement to be true – even if it appears that we trust everything but God in all possible other matters that concern us. In other words, how is it possible that one can rely on Christ for the next life, without doing so for this one? Is this really possible? Surely it is not!”
So, this blog is as much for me, as you. What am I trusting in today, more than God and what does my life tell God who and what I truly love?
“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.” 1 Corinthians 3:18
So my resolution for this year is to be a greater fool for Christ. To do that I'll not only need to engage in deeper self-examination, but be willing to be "foolish enough" to live it out. Does Christ consider me his fool?
Think and pray
Jim Elliot, martyred for Christ at 29, famously said this, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." Join me in daring to give Jesus this gift He wants from everyone who claims they love him: foolish obedience.
Lord, I confess that I too often practice a 'safe' version of Christianity that protects my lifestyle, my reputation and my personal dreams. Plant Your desires in my heart and help me to surrender every area of my life to You, experiencing the peace and purpose that's only found in drawing near to You. Amen.
Clare De Graaf is an author, teacher, and for more than 35 years a full-time spiritual mentor of men. He is the author of The 10 Second Rule: Following Jesus Made Simple and served for years on staff with CBMC in Grand Rapids, MI. Clare is also the founding chairman of DOOR International, a ministry committed to translating the Bible into sign language for the deaf of the world. Read Clare’s blog and learn more about his ministry at ClareDeGraaf.com.