“Faith is the willingness to look foolish.” – Mark Batterson
So he (Zacchaeus) ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him (Jesus), for he was to pass that way. (Luke 19:4)
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your willingness to look foolish for God?
How desperate are you to see Jesus?
What lion is God calling you to chase?
Today’s message is the final one in this Chase the Lion series. The series is based on the book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. Here is part of what Mark Batterson shared in his sermon “Looking Foolish” on December 20, 2006:
A few months ago I was reading the writings of John Muir—the founder of the Sierra Club. Muir is tough to describe, but the love of nature was the central passion of his life. He spent his life studying it, protecting it, and appreciating it.
One of my favorite Muir moments happened in December of 1874. John Muir was staying with a friend at his cabin in the Sierra Mountains and a winter storm set in. The wind was so strong that it bent the trees over backwards. But instead of retreating to the safety of the cabin, Muir chased the storm! He found a mountain ridge; climbed to the top of a giant Douglas Fir tree; and held on for dear life for several hours feasting his senses on the sights and sounds and scents.
In his journal, Muir writes:
When the storm began to sound I lost no time in pushing out into the woods to enjoy it. For on such occasions, Nature always has something rare to show us, and the danger to life and limb is hardly greater than one would experience crouching deprecatingly beneath a roof.
John Muir was no stranger to danger. He climbed mountains and crossed rivers and explored glaciers. But there is something about this mental picture of John Muir climbing a one-hundred foot Douglas fir tree during a storm that is iconic.
In the words of Eugene Peterson, the story of John Muir climbing to the top of that storm-whipped Douglas Fir is an icon of Christian spirituality. He said it’s a standing rebuke against becoming a mere spectator to life, preferring creature comfort to Creator confrontation.
We are called to climb trees! And it’s based on more than an eccentric naturalist named John Muir. Climbing trees is actually a biblical metaphor in Luke 19.
Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
Zacchaeus had a reputation to protect. He had an image to uphold. But this distinguished tax collector in a three-piece suit climbs a tree like a little kid. He didn’t care about decorum. He didn’t care about protocol. He didn’t care how foolish he looked. He just wanted to get a glimpse of Jesus!
And I want you to notice what is often overlooked in this story. Zacchaeus was willing to looking foolish to get a glimpse of Jesus. And Jesus returned the favor. The people criticized Jesus for hanging out with Zacchaeus.
The end result is an amazing conversion. Zacchaeus gives half his possessions to the poor on the spot. And Jesus says, “Salvation has come to your house.”
Let me tell you what God is looking for. And I think this is huge. If you don’t know what God is looking for it is awfully hard to please him. In fact, we waste a lot of effort trying to please God in ways that aren’t pleasing to him. The Pharisees are exhibit A. God isn’t looking for religious protocol. I think God is looking for tree climbers. God is looking for people who will do anything to get to God.
Faith is the willingness to look foolish.
It seems like the people that God uses the most are the people who are willing to climb trees or get out of boats or follow stars or chase lions! The greatest turning points in Scripture can be traced back to someone who was willing to look foolish.
Don’t tell me Noah didn’t feel a little foolish building an ark when rain wasn’t in the forecast for another 120 years! Don’t tell me David didn’t feel a little foolish going to war with a slingshot. Don’t tell me Benaiah didn’t feel a little foolish chasing the king of the beasts. Don’t tell me the Wise Men didn’t feel a little foolish when Jewish border agents asked them the reason for their visit. Don’t tell me a professional fisherman named Peter didn’t feel a little foolish stepping out of the boat in the middle of the lake. And don’t tell me Jesus didn’t feel a little foolish hanging half-naked on the cross in front of him family and friends. But faith is the willingness to look foolish. And the results speak for themselves. Noah was saved from the flood. David defeated Goliath. The Wise Men found the Messiah. Peter walked on water. And Jesus was raised from the dead.
Heavenly Father, we praise You as the God who often asks us to do strange things. Thank You for Your reassurance that “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Cor 3:19). Bless each of us with the courage and fortitude to obey You and look foolish to the world when You beckon us to follow You. Thank You Jesus. Amen and hallelujah!
Link of the Day
Chase the Lion: Looking Foolish – video by Mark Batterson
Blessings to be willing to look foolish for God!
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