I’ve been a Christian now for better than 46 years thanks to some friends and future in-laws who witnessed to me and prayed me through to salvation. I wasn’t totally ignorant of the Bible before that, but I think I saw it simply as a great book with great stories. I mean, who wouldn’t like a story about Moses, a Hebrew who, as a baby, was saved from death by Pharaoh’s daughter, raised for forty years like an Egyptian prince, and then shown he was to free the children of Israel from their long bondage. When he acted on his own and killed an Egyptian who was beating Hebrew slaves, he had to flee. His own people wanted nothing to do with him. He went to the backside of the desert to herd sheep for the next forty years. Then, he found himself talkin’ to a shrub–one that was on fire, but not being consumed. Wow! Talk about surreal.
Can you imagine? He had been separated from “civilization” for forty years, all the while tending sheep (which the Egyptians despised). And now here was with this bush that claimed to be God, I AM WHO I AM, (Exodus 3:14) who told him that he was still supposed to set the children of Israel free. Moses must have been blown away by all of this. He even questions God about sending him, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt? (Exodus 3:11) What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The Lord never appeared to you?’ (Exodus 4:1) O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled. (Exodus 4:10) Lord, please! Send anyone else.” (Exodus 4:13) But no matter how foolish the concept seemed, or how many excuses Moses tried to make, God knew who He wanted–the one “talkin’ to a shrub. And, after many tries and miracles from God, Moses succeeded in freeing the Hebrews. And, eventually to the Promised Land.
How many times has God used the weak or foolish to do His work. I mean, really? March around the walled city of Jericho once for six days and seven times on the seventh? And shout? How much faith must it have taken to even bother? Or, how about the leper Naaman, who was told by Elisha to wash seven times in the Jordan River to be healed. He was a commander in King Aram’s army. He couldn’t believe that the unimpressive Jordan River would heal him.
Of course, he was right. The river didn’t heal him. And the shout didn’t cause the walls of Jericho to fall flat. And Moses didn’t free the Hebrews from the Egyptians. It was by obeying God when it seemed foolish that these deeds were accomplished. And that’s what made those Bible stories more than just interesting stories. Once I came to know God, they were stories of life–full of encouragement and power.
When you share Jesus with others, remember that 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 doubters, 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. Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. (I Corinthians 1:18-29)
No matter how foolish or silly it may seem, God’s instructions always make a good story, a life-enriching story, an encouraging story, and, sometimes, a cautionary story. But always true. Where are you in your story? Talkin’ to a shrub?