Last night, I watched a movie based on the true story of Lee Strobel, an award-winning hard-nosed journalist for the Chicago Tribune in the early ‘80s who also has a masters degree at Yale Law School.
Strobel would be considered in the world’s eyes as—a smart man. And wise. As a journalist, he dug deep for the facts like an archeologist. He sought to report only the truth. No fake news for him.
But one day, Strobel’s little girl was saved miraculously from a choking accident in a restaurant by a Christian nurse who “coincidentally” happened to be there. Then Strobel’s wife—shaken by this event—becomes a Christian. (Sorry, spoiler alert.) The award-winning, skeptical, atheistic journalist that Strobel was, was faced with the evidence that Christ was real to them. That his wife, Leslie, was a changed woman, who loved him even if he was mean and sarcastic at her. She never gave up on him and their marriage; and constantly prayed for him.
I won’t spoil the rest of the movie for you (if you haven’t watched it yet on Netflix, but I’ll just say what is not a secret: Strobel chased the evidence like a true journalist. He sought to refute the historical evidence of Christ resurrected. But instead he was transformed from doubter to a believer.
If you haven’t watched the movie yet, please do. The Case for Christ gives us, believers, hope. Hope that God can change any cold-stone-hard-heart into a heart of flesh. And hope and confidence that our faith is not a blind faith based on fake or doubtful news. But a faith that is based on the truth—backed up by historical authenticated events—of a resurrected Jesus.
Two thousand years ago, history also shows that the apostle Paul, when he was still named Saul, a Pharisee, was a lot like Lee Strobel. But aside from being a doubter, Saul was a killer of believers. He found Christ and the message of Christ crucified, died and risen from the dead to save us from our sins as…foolishness. A heresy to the world of facts and worldly common sense and wisdom. It was a foolishness worthy deserving of death.
And then Saul, on his way to hunt more Christians, encountered Christ in dramatic fashion on the road to Damascus. Jesus appears—visible only to him—and speaks to Saul. Very much similar to the way many non-believers in the Middle East and in the Muslim world are encountering Jesus and coming to faith in the One true God. (Read Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi.)
Saul becomes Paul—and has a new identity: from a rabid killer of followers of Christ, to a passionate follower of Christ. From chief fool of the world, to a fool for Christ.
In his letter to the Corinthians 1, Paul says, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
Paul was willing to be called a fool by those who were perishing—those who didn’t believe that Christ saves us from our sins. That He is the Messiah. Strobel, like Paul, had the truth with them.
“We are fools for Christ’s sake2,” says Paul as he wrote to the church in Corinth.
Today is April Fool’s day as I write this under semi lock-down in Hawaii. Cases are increasing here as well and is causing panic in this “paradise.” Such is our lives today. We live in COVID-19 pandemic times when the wisdom of the world is being turned into foolishness. We think we know so much, when we know so little. Our “wise” plans, God laughs at. God is turning this world upside down.
Paul explains, “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty…” 3
Who would have thought that the whole world, would be put to shame—hiding away in closed quarters—by what some world leaders thought was nothing but a foolish little virus. The world’s wisest men are still trying to figure out a cure and a vaccine to save the world. But in the meantime, people perish—if not by the virus, then certainly by hunger and panic caused by man’s hastily devised plans.
And so, we the church, are called to reach out to the world with the good news amidst all the bad news—at the risk of being called fools ourselves.
Will you answer the call, just like Strobel 4 and Paul, to be a “fool for Christ’s sake”?
Let Paul’s words, this time to the Romans, breathe life to us and encourage us to keep on sharing Christ:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…” 5
Share Christ by being kind, share Christ by serving and reaching out to others, share Christ by being generous, and please don’t stop there. Make sure you share Christ by sharing the good news. Let the world know about the his gift:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” 6
There’s a scene in the movie where Strobel is trying to make sense of Jesus’ motives for giving us this gift—of going through the torture and pain and death on the cross. “What was his motive?” he asks a Priest and scholar.
“His motive was simple. It was for love.”
“Love?” Strobel replied, confounded by such a motive.
Yet, love indeed was God’s motive for becoming God in the flesh for us. God the Father sent God the Son, to earth to die for us. May this good news remain fresh and exciting for us: “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” 7
Come, church! Let us be fools for Christ and share this love to the world!
1 1 Corinthians 1:27 (NKJV)
2 1 Corinthians 4:10a
3 1 Corinthians 1:27
4 Strobel, after coming to Christ, proposes to this Chicago Tribune editor/boss to write an article about his journey from atheist to believer. But he is laughed off by his boss—looking at him as if he were fooling him. “Are you kidding me?” He goes home to his wife and tells the story. Leslie, tells him instead, “Why not write a book?” And so is born, The Case for Christ. With 17 milion copies in print as of today.
5 Romans 1:16 — all verses above are from the New King James Version
6 Romans 6:23 – NLT
7 John 3:16 NLT