by Rob Tims
As a young boy growing up in the 1980s, I made room in my life for a handful of television shows on the few of channels we had. I absolutely loved Hee-Haw (“I searched the world over and thought I found true love. You met another and pppbbbttttt —you were gone.”), and I hated to miss the Solid Gold dancers. The Dukes of Hazard, Knight Rider, The Six Million Dollar Man, and The Incredible Hulk were favorites as well. Yet none of these were as gratifying as The A-Team.
The A-Team was an action and comedy show about a group of former US Special Forces soldiers who used their talents to make a wealthy living. They earned their income while on the run from the U. S. Army who wished to incarcerate them for war crimes they supposedly did not commit. Each of the team members made great contributions to the show, but as far as this ten-year-old was concerned, no team member surpassed the greatness of B. A. Baracus, played by Mr. T. His trademark phrase has forever stamped my generation: “I pity the fool.” It’s a phrase Mr. T would use in other cinematic greats like Rocky III, and one that would title his own television show in 2006.
While Mr. T is famous for the phrase, the sentiment is universal. We’ve all had a conversation with someone, while listening to their plans and reasoning thought to ourselves, “I pity this fool.” We’ve also been that person with ideas we’ve shared with someone, and they lovingly replied, “You’d be a fool if you did that.” We’ve had opportunities come our way that we almost passed up, and someone grabbed us by the shirt collar and said, “You’d be a fool not to do that.”
In a very short parable, Jesus does the same to those of us who are church members only … to those of us who generally agree with what hear about Jesus on Sunday mornings, but never actually do anything He says.
46 “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? 47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 48 It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. 49 But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” Luke 6:46-49.
Jesus’ imagery is powerful. Everything around us is chaotic and disorderly. Circumstances batter us, but we stand firm when we do what Jesus says. It is our obedience that reveals the quality of our foundation and gives us confidence in our salvation. Conversely, disobedience leads to crisis in the midst of the chaos. It dims the truth of the gospel and calls our faith into question.
Jesus does not mince words in this parable. He wants us to know the blessings associated with a faith that goes beyond the minimums, and feel the risk that stems from a faith that does not. Failing to follow the words of Jesus invites the question, “Am I even a Christian?”
And what is more foolish than that?
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.