How To Be Ridiculous

Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. 

 1 Corinthians 3:18-19

It was a somewhat shocking thing to hear as I sat quietly in my office. I often hear God when I don’t expect it, but then there are times when I purpose to just sit and listen for anything He may want to say. This particular time as I listened for His voice I instead heard my own voice, my own thoughts being quoted back to me.

“That’s preposterous!” I heard myself saying with an indigent and critical tone. That was out of the blue! What are we talking about? Preposterous…I knew what the word meant and I knew how to use it in a sentence, but I recognized this was the Holy Spirit quoting me back to myself, so I decided to look the word up.

adjective: preposterous
  1. contrary to reason or common sense; utterly absurd or ridiculous.
    “a preposterous suggestion”

Synonyms: absurd, ridiculous, foolish, stupid, ludicrous, farcical, laughable, comical, risible, nonsensical, senseless, insane, outrageous, monstrous, informal crazy

I have often had the Holy Spirit use a word that I don’t know, or I may know a word but I’m not familiar with it – so I look these words up to see what He’s talking about. It helps me recognize and confirm His voice as distinct from my own thoughts.

I knew from my tone that I was being critical, even ridiculing, and when I saw the definition of the word the Holy Spirit made it clear what he was trying to tell me. What followed has spurred me on in a new avenue of growth that I am very excited about.

Like pulling on a loose thread, the Holy Spirit very gently began to unravel a pattern of thoughts in my heart and my mind that were not like Him at all. He began to expose the limits and constraints that I placed on Him – the expectations (or lack thereof) I had of Him.

I have often preached on the miraculous. I “believe” that God still heals, still delivers, that the gifts of the Spirit are for today – all those things. No one questions God’s power or ability. What Christian, or even an agnostic (on a sunny day) wouldn’t admit, hypothetically, that God can do XYZ-thing. Sure he can. This is not a hard thing to agree with hypothetically. Everyone agrees God can do something. Unfortunately that isn’t faith. Hebrews 11:1 describes faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Without any expectation or hope, faith is substance-less. And this is the “belief” or agreement with the truth as a theory, but lacking hope for it’s reality.

As I sat there in my office the Holy Spirit showed me the boundaries I placed on Him. He communicated this to me…

You often pride yourself on being a reasonable person. You respect those that are respectable and reasonable, those that act in a reasonable way. This definition of preposterous is exactly opposite of what you value. You despise what is absurd, stupid, unreasonable, ridiculous. However, you must understand that faith is not about what you can do, but what I can do. If you intend for me to be able to use and partner with your faith you must become open to the preposterous, the unreasonable, the absurd, the ridiculous. You have often preached that nothing is impossible with God, but you don’t live with an abiding expectation that God will do it in your life. Moreover, you fear my leadership that would ask you to do something that is “unreasonable” to you. This fear must be eradicated if you are to have hope for me do the impossible in your life.

You speak if you are spoken to. You let the social norms prevent you from obeying me, and above all you value your reputation, therefore you fear following me in new things because you might look foolish, unreasonable, preposterous. But the entire narrative of the scriptures stands as a testimony to those that believed preposterous things. Abraham and Sarah expected a son from Me at 100 years of age, Joshua expected shouting would bring down walls, Moses used a stick to overpower the greatest nation on earth, Gideon defeated a countless army with torches and horns, Jesus believed the dead were “only sleeping, and they laughed him to scorn.”

If you want the scriptures to be a pattern for your life, than you must become quite comfortable with what everyone else considers preposterous.

As a result of this conversation with my teacher, I have taken up confessing the definition of preposterous on a regular basis. I want to expect God to do the impossible in my life everyday and in every service I ever speak in. He is the God of the supernatural. No one doubts this and that isn’t the problem. The challenge of becoming aware of His presence in our day-to-day life has to go beyond merely acknowledging He is there, He is powerful, He knows what we’re going through – it must go beyond all these things. It must extend to our expectations, it must change our expectations. My prayer is that I am a person that never staggers in unbelief at God’s word. I don’t want to be counted among the faithless (those that have no expectation that God will move) but the faithful – full of expectation that God is going to do the impossible with me in this generation too! I pray you join me in “becoming ridiculous.”

Richard ministers regularly at Great Commission Church in Marshalltown, IA. He and his wife, Natalie, have three awesome kiddos - Joshua (6), Marshall (4), and Kaitlyn (1).

2 comments on “How To Be Ridiculous

  1. Jean Wahl

    Good word, Richard. It’s hard to overcome our natural “human inclination” not to appear ridiculous to others. I believe that God gives all of us a measure of faith with which to believe for the miraculous.He also gives us a “renewed mind” Eph 4:23 ( hopefully we’ve renewed it with the word) to learn about our Lord and His ways. And an important part of that mind of Christ that we have is to have discernment. Love you guys!


  2. David Francis

    Great teaching, Richard. Thanks for sharing.


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