The Thin Line Between Faith and Foolishness

Someone, somewhere once defined “insanity” as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to get different results.

True enough.

At some point, when you are in a rhythm and cycle and you’re not satisfied with the results, you have to go back and look at the way you are doing something, or the assumptions you had in doing that thing to see what needs to be corrected:

  • If you’re launching a business or a product and people aren’t buying in, then you need to examine your messaging, pricing, or the perceived need for your thing.
  • If you’re trying to lose weight but can’t, you need to examine your diet, your exercise level, or both.
  • If you find yourself spending more money than you’re making every month, you need to examine your expenditures one at a time to see what’s not lining up.

In all these cases, the unsatisfactory results demand a second look at what you’re doing to try and achieve those results. Only a fool would continue on the same path, doing the same things, with the same assumptions behind those things, and expect that someday, like magic, the results will be different. Something has to change. And while that philosophy works great in many areas of life, it runs contrary to the Christian faith. In the Christian faith, we are called to keep doing the same things over and over again in spite of  the apparent results. Here’s a few examples from the Book of Hebrews, a book that constantly drives home the point of perseverance:

  • For we have become companions of the Messiah if we hold firmly until the end the reality that we had at the start (Hebrews 3:14).
  • Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).
  • For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised (Hebrews 10:36).
  • Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Keep running. Keep enduring. Keep holding. Keep doing the same thing, over and over again. But here, in this aspect of life, we must keep doing the same thing over and over again despite the results before us. In faith, there is a higher value than pragmatism, and the higher value is Jesus.

See, in the earlier examples, it’s foolishness to continue on the same path. But here, the focus is not on the seen, but the unseen; it’s not on the results, but on the One behind the results. The temptation, though, is to take the same pragmatic attitude we have with other areas of life and apply it to our faith. Our beliefs must evolve. Our understanding of truth must change. Our deep held convictions must be softened. And why?

Because they’re not working any more.

To this, the Bible would say, I think, something like, “So what?”

Walk the line, then, between faith and foolishness, but walk it with your eyes not on the results but the One who makes the fool to be wise and wise to be the fool:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved. For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and I will set aside the understanding of the experts.”

Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn’t God made the world’s wisdom foolish? For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was please to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached (1 Corinthians 1:18-21).

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