Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fanatic for Christ

by Bishop Peggy Johnson

The Apostle Paul writes to the church of Corinth that he is a “fool for Christ” (I Corinthians 4:10).  He describes his foolish behavior as one who willingly submits to poverty, disrespect and fatigue.  Other “foolish” activities includes blessing those who insulted him, enduring persecution, and speaking kindly to people who lied about him.  It is foolish by the world’s standards because in the world we want to win, be wealthy, comfortable, respected, honored, and treated kindly.  As followers of Christ we are signing on to be treated as Christ was treated.  This is truly counter-cultural and appears to be, fanatical.

The annual United Methodist Day at the Phillies happened once again .  On August 17th over 1,200 United Methodists from the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference under the capable leadership of United Methodist Men’s conference president, Ross Brightwell, came to cheer on the home team.  A mass choir led by the choir of Camphor UMC and six other Eastern PA Church choirs,sang the National Anthem and “America the Beautiful” before the game began.  We were greeted by a well-known personality: the Phillies Phanatic.  He is the green fury mascot for the Philadelphia’s major league baseball team and his claim to fame is that he is a super-enthusiastic  fan of the team. With his crazy antics and dramatic body language it is clear that he is a fool for baseball.  He is willing to look silly, fall on the ground, run around in circle and expend enormous amounts of energy in what must be a very hot costume on a summer night. Why?  Out of love for the Phillies!!

How can we be a little more fanatical about our faith?  When was the last time you were a “fool for Christ”?  When did you show someone without faith what your faith in Christ means to you?  Was joy and exuberance on your face?  When did you allow someone else to have your money, your time, your place of honor out of love for Christ?  When did you face persecution and criticism because you followed the way of Christ?   If you do then you stand in line with many of the saints who have gone before you and you surely are light and salt in this world.

John Wesley was a “fool for Christ” when he wrote the Covenant Prayer:
I am no longer my own, but Thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father Son and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am Thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let I be ratified in heaven. Amen.

(The United Methodist Hymnal #607)

1 comment:

  1. Throughout history there is evidence of violence and persecution committed in the name of religion. You are so right, Bishop Johnson, that we need to remember, but mostly so we can do our part to keep this kind of thing from reoccurring. True reconciliation for something is to prevent it from occurring again. We must ask ourselves, What would Jesus do? I believe Jesus would be performing gay marriages, despite what the "church" told him to do, because he answers to a higher power than the "church".