Learning from Fools
The safe thing to do with power and possessions.
by Andy Crouch | posted 02/01/2006 09:00 a.m.
"When I tell my grandchildren about America at the turn of the century, I will tell them about houses and wars.
I will tell them about houses in places like Wheaton, Illinois, a one-time center of mild, middle-class, Midwestern evangelical Christianity, where grand teardown mansions loom where bungalows once stood. I will tell them about the heady days of option ARMS, cash-out refinancing, and homebuilders whose stock prices made the front page.
I will tell them about our wars, fought with blustering confidence and dubious competence, ambitious and precarious, like a teardown on a tiny lot.
Then I will tell them two of Jesus' most misinterpreted parables.
In Luke 14, Jesus tells the stories of a tower builder and an embattled king. In many English Bibles, these twin parables are labeled "The Cost of Discipleship." But Jesus' first hearers would have known that label was exactly backwards. For these stories are not about disciples, but fools...."
Crouch's take on this is a little outside standard interpretations, but he makes some good points. He wants to make this the cost of non-discipleship by focussing on poor stewardship and planning. There is no reason why that can't be the case, since, like much of Jesus's teaching, it can be taken on more than one level. In the group that heard him speak, some probably nodded their heads in agreement that yes, it WOULD be pretty imprudent to start a construction project without the resources to finish it. Others might have realized that the costs of following Jesus were more than they could bear. And some might have weighed all that they heard, and followed Jesus, knowing full well that Jesus wanted their entire being.
As Crouch points out, we have more possessions than we know what to do with, and that leads us to believe that we are self-sufficient. We think we have the resources and power to do anything we want, including building structures, businesses, empires, fighting wars, and so on. What we are forgetting is that unless what we do is God's plan, then all we do is in vain. We need to count the costs of what we do as well as what we fail to do.
I may not agree with all that Andy Crouch says, or the emphases he places on different aspects of these parables, but he certainly provides stimulating ideas to consider.
Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’
31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.
34 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”