Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God. The time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.
Following Jesus isn’t the sane thing to do. Granted I think there are good and sound reasons to be a Christian, but to really follow Jesus is such a radical thing to do that it makes us look crazy to the rest of the world. It is crazy to give money when we are urged to spend to the point of being thousands of dollars in debt. It is crazy to love the grumpy old neighbor when everyone else on the block just complains about him. It is crazy to celebrate a funeral while the rest of the world mourns the lost of of a loved one. It is crazy to give up time to volunteer when there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish what we need to get done. It is crazy not to have sex before you get married when the world tells you that it is the natural thing to do. To live a life that truly follows Jesus makes us crazy.
Erwin McManus wrote about this reality:
“When the Spirit of God envelops your soul, your spirit comes alive, and everything changes for you. You are no longer the same. And to those who cannot see the invisible, to those who refuse to believe it exists, the path you choose, the life you live, may lead them to conclude that you are not simply different but insane. People who are fully alive look out of their minds to those who simply exist.” (The Barbarian Way, p. 69)
I think one of the problems the American Church suffers from is from the fact that we have made following Jesus reasonable. Don’t get me wrong I am not saying that being a Christian means to shut off our minds and blindly accept what we are told to believe. Remember faith in Jesus Christ begins with our decision to accept the reality, based on the evidence, of His life, death, and resurrection. Yet, James tells us that if faith doesn’t start to affect the way we live then that faith is dead (James 2:17). Living faith pushes us to make changes in the way we live and to do things we would neve have done before.
That is one of the points Peter is making in the passage above. We used to live like the rest of the world, pursuing pleasure, but because we have linked our lives to Jesus, through faith, we now live differently. No longer do we chase after the desires of the flesh, but we seek to obey the spirit. The result of this change in behavior will be abuse from the world.
People who are guided by the passions and desires of this world think it is strange, they are astonished, that Followers of Jesus don’t join them in what they are doing. Our lifestyle doesn’t make sense to them because they have come to believe that true life is found in the things of this world. Even through their pursuit of pleasure and money have left them unsatisfied they keep telling themselves that happiness is just around the corner. It is crazy to them that life can be found in giving our lives away. They are not able to understand it.
Following Jesus is crazy because it goes against everything we have been told about what brings happiness to our lives. Jesus tells us that life is found when we lose our life. Jesus tells us that we are great when we are the least. He says that being a servant is more rewarding that being a superstar. He tells us that we are blessed when we are persecuted. It is crazy to follow Jesus if that is what He is asking from us.
To follow Jesus isn’t about adding Jesus to our lives it is about conforming our lives to the life of Jesus. It won’t always make sense to us and people around us will think we are crazy, but it is the path God has established for living true life. Are we crazy enough to follow it?