4/1/01, L5C

“Fools In Love”

"Everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with him. I no longer count my own goodness or my ability to obey God's law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith." (Philippians 3:8-9, NLT).

"Our dedication to Christ makes us look like fools, but you are so wise! We are weak, but you are so powerful! You are well thought of, but we are laughed at. (I Corinthians 4:10).

"God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful." (I Cor. 1:27)

Sometimes we all play the fool--- and that's a good thing. All of life is not logical. In fact, the highest in life often boils down to feelings, foolish feelings, apart from facts.

It's that way in patriotism, in loyalty, and certainly in love. Hundreds of times I have asked prospective couples, "When did you know that you were a fool in love?" Nobody yet has said, "Well, she/he matched all of the qualifications on my profile list." Sure, we consider compatibility;
somebody we would be proud to take to our family reunion; somebody who would at least have a chance of getting along with our parents. Yet, after all of the analysis the decision follows our heart going pitter-patter. God created us with the capacity to fall in love. Sure, the harder questions must eventually be answered: Where will we live? When will we have kids? How will we budget our meager money? Can two really live as cheaply as one? Logic follows but feelings lead the way in the most precious things of life.

Today is April Fool's Day. It is not a high holy day on our church calendar, but it is a day that reminds us that not everything can be calculated to a final answer. April Fool's Day originated in the 1500s when the Julian calendar was dropped and the Gregorian calendar adopted. This meant that the New Year's Day celebration was changed from April 1 to January 1. Of course, it took a while for everyone to accept the change. But as more and more people followed the new tradition of January 1st as New Year's Day, those who were still observing the old New Year's celebration were called "April Fools."

We can identify with those April Fools for many of us have had our sleep schedules interrupted by Daylight Savings Time just this morning. We will again have folks arriving for our 11:00 o'clock worship service promptly at noon, and I am sure that some of you can't wait to meet them at the door shouting--- "April Fool!" Maybe you were an hour early for worship last year. Perhaps some of us will play the fool for tonight's service. Mark Twain said that April Fool's Day reminds us of what we all are the other 364 days of the year.

Major League Baseball, a microcosm of life, also begins this weekend. I for one hope that our "AOL-Time-Warner Braves" can win a tenth pennant in a row through their enthusiasm and passion for the game. George and Laura Bush are big baseball fans. Our new President's wife looked out her window recently and commented, "we sure have a big back yard." George responded, "Let's put in a baseball diamond!" And they are! Children's T-Ball teams will soon be playing America's sport on the back lawn of The White House. Our tender hearted President teared up again when reminiscing about his Little League baseball days, "It's a memory that you cherish all of your life!"

Enthusiasm is critical in church life too. According to our church history, in 1940 the downtown had swallowed up our current church location and the Board voted to move to the suburbs. But Bishop Arthur Moore insisted there should be a Methodist Church downtown. He appointed a former pro baseball player, Pierce Harris, to come revitalize the church. It took four years to get folks going, but soon attendance had increased ten fold. His folksy preaching style coupled with the energetic music of Army Armstrong increased membership by over two-thousand. He said, "I don't mind if the folks who come to my church don't agree with me, but I don't want anybody to go away saying they couldn't understand me."

This idea is reflected in the thought of Saint Paul who was the most legalistic and educated of the Apostles. Yet, he set his logic aside in order to know; "Christ and the power of his resurrection." (Phil. 3:10, NRSV). Dr. Paul moved from the rigidity of the Law to the experiential joy of forgiveness based upon faith in Christ. He was also willing to become what appeared to more rigid persons as a "Fool for Christ's sake." (I Cor. 4:10; II). Paul's dramatic conversion experience gave him the joy of an experience of the heart.

Yet, emotional faith on an experiential level has always been a barrier for many whose backgrounds are more rigid. Persons who have grown up in inflexible, overly disciplined homes tend to cling to their clear cut codes that can become barriers to the more intuitive nature of faith. To some it seems more sensible that if they work hard they will be deserving. However, the Old Testament, based upon Commandments, began to point toward a new day when salvation would become heart felt. The Prophet Isaiah said that, "Our righteousness is as filthy rags," (worthless) and that our best accomplishments, "fades as a leaf." (Isaiah 64:6). Although, as naturally free spirited children they could never quite please inflexible parents, these same persons in turn become uptight adults who twist Christian faith into a struggle to earn praise from their false images of an angry God. However, the Good News is that if Paul, who had been so rigid, could embrace the freeing joy of Grace, then there is hope for the rest of us. God can translate our legalism into needed organizational skills, blended with spiritual fervor, to turn the world upside down for the Kingdom of God.

Will we open our hearts to God's freeing love? Do you think that you could ever describe yourself as A Fool In Love With Christ?

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor

4/1/01, L5C