Are We Absurd?
March 27, 2024 Creekwood United Methodist Church

Perceived Value - Deep Thoughts

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Are We Absurd?

“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed. But it is the power of God for those of us who are being saved. It is written in scripture: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will reject the intelligence of the intelligent. Where are the wise? Where are the legal experts? Where are today’s debaters? Hasn’t God made the wisdom of the world foolish? In God’s wisdom, he determined that the world wouldn’t come to know him through its wisdom. instead, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of preaching. Jews ask for signs, and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, which is a scandal to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. But to those who are called – both Jews and Greeks – Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom. This is because the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 CEB

Holy Week

As we sit on day two of a week we ask extraordinarily busy people to give up two extra nights of your week, there is a voice inside my head that asks, “Are we absurd?”  I get the feeling the wider Corinthian community was ridiculing the church at Corinth in the same way, and I’m sure Paul is responding to this criticism because a member or two wrote him to ask, “Are we absurd?”

Are we really asked to follow in the footsteps of someone deemed a criminal?

Is it worth it to give up two extra nights to hear a story we’ve heard every year?

How can strength be asserted through weakness?

Did we hear it right?  Did the Son of God really let himself get killed?

And…we’re supposed to give up our ego and lifestyle to a guy who can’t even protect himself?

I’ve had people tell me that it’s absurd.

I’ve sat in my office sometimes and wondered, “really?”

As hard as it may be to admit, I’m guessing you have one or two questions around Christianity too.

Are we absurd?

Or are we in awe?

A while back, a basketball player named Vince Carter jumped all the way over a French basketball player who stood at 7’2”.  Like, Carters knees were level with the other guy’s head.  The reaction from the basketball community was in awe, “no way did that happen.”  There was even conversation by those who only saw the clip virally online that it had been doctored, because it’s absurd that anyone could ever jump that high.  But he did.

One of the most enjoyable shows on Netflix for both my kids and I was “Magic For Humans.”  Justin Willman does prepared illusions and street magic, often making things disappear and reappear with such precision and impossibility that we rewound it over and over again to see if we could find the video cuts or the magic strings; asking ourselves over and over again, “HOW?” Even though we know that the tricks are slight of hand, etc., the reality of how good he was at magic was absurd to our rational minds.  But he did them.

What Paul will go on to argue is that God often works in the times we feel the most humble, or through the people who are the most humble/humbled – so that we know it’s truly God, truly real, and truly not by our egos (lest we should boast and hold it over others).  It seems the salvation Jesus offers was done in the same mindset, humble and humbled, and yet ultimately victorious to the point where some might scientifically or logically think it is absurd.

But is it absurd?  Or is it awesome?

I’ll end the devotional part here, by asking you to join in the full story of awesome love by joining us on Thursday at 7pm and Friday at 7pm for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, respectively, and then at any one of our three Easter worships (7am Sunrise, 8:30am Traditional, 11am Contemporary).  Hear the story with fresh ears, and maybe even try to understand it all.  If you find it to be absurd…that might be the point. It might be too awesome to fully grasp.

But that awesome God, I promise you, has you fully in his loving grasp.


David Lessner


I mentioned I was ending the devotional part, but I did want to offer some rebuttals of the “that’s absurd” arguments about our faith by looking at three different schools of thought.

Psychological Benefits

The origination of psychology would certainly lean on the side of religion being an opiate or satiating experience for those seeking an escape from their daily struggles, and I’m wondering why that is a bad thing?  Let me take it from a different angle.

How many people do you know who will absolutely not miss their favorite football team’s game?

Even more, how many of those people subconsciously believe that if they don’t watch the game, wear the right t-shirt, or sit in the right seat that that will affect their team negatively?

It’s absurd, correct?  But it also provides them a sense of identity and belonging, which is shown to be a strong characteristic of mental health.  We should always be wary of what the groups’ values and morals are, so that we don’t accidentally praise being a part of the KKK, ISIS, or a manipulatively abusive church, but in general, belief and belonging are strong parts of a healthy individual.

With a faith in God, we not only belong to a local church, but to a universal, eternal community.  We feel we have support in this world both by our friends and family, and also from the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus calls “The Advocate.”  Even if we are absurd, the mental health benefits are excellent, provided we keep our humility and ensure our community espouses values that are truly Jesus-like.  In fact, study after study shows that singing in a choir is one of the best things you can do for your psychological health.  Singing in a church choir, with more meaning behind what you are singing, is even more effective.

Coming to two extra hours of worship, to engage in the full story of Holy Week, reinforces that faith, belief, and community to know that we are not alone and all of the mental health benefits of God’s never-ending love that conquers even death.

Narrative Reasons

An old preaching illustration pictures a Christian speaking to an atheist.  The atheist is asking the Christian why they would waste their lives, and the Christian responds back, “if I’m wrong, then I have blessed others and served the poor – and hardly wasted my life.”

The Christian faith, and more specifically the worship services during Holy Week that invite us to experience the story (more than process it), invite us into a larger narrative so that we can center our life in something meaningful, long-lasting, and life-giving.  So much of what we experience each day is fleeting.  Fads come and go in the world of fashion, business, and even water bottles (who knew a water bottle could be a status symbol?).  We are sold and sold and sold everywhere we look, and anything that isn’t instant is considered inconvenient.

Into that space, faith and religion invite us into a story that has roots and invites us to extend our branches into the world in the name of good, mercy, justice, and love – inviting others to experience the story as well.  Just like with psychological benefits, having direction for our lives is important to human health, and experiencing Holy Week is a key part of living into the story we are a part of.

Historical Reasons

As a direct response to whether we are absurd to believe in a crucified savior who rose from the dead, I would say, “the early Christians certainly didn’t think so.”  While I may have to intellectually defend my faith in Christ in 21st century Texas, the early Christians had to defend their lives from their Jewish communities that weren’t sympathetic to the perceived blasphemy of proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God, AND the Romans who feared this new group of rebels who refused to proclaim Caesar as the Son of God and were thought to be cannibals who were “eating the body and drinking the blood” of their Savior.

They had a lot to lose and absurdly chose to lose it all.

Absurdly enough, their choice to lose it all and follow Christ was the inspiring part.  Those who were occupied and taxed by Rome weren’t incredibly loyal or excited to be proselytized by the Romans, but the thousands and thousands that came to be part of the Christian movement were zealous and excited to give their possessions so that the poor could be fed and to proclaim eternal forgiveness to even their captors who were putting them into the arena with lions and gladiators.

Pretty soon people started to notice that these Christians were different, and that these Christians were caring for the sick, poor, and weak whom the Romans would sluff off as useless to the Empire.  They came to notice that non-violence was a much more effective way of healing relationships and building peace, after an entire lifetime of the threat of and use of violence.

We have historical record from Tacitus, Josephus, Pliny the Elder, the Bible itself, and the fact that we will meet for Holy Week along with billions of Christians around the world that suggests something historically significant happened to the extent that perfectly happy people gave up their lives to actually now face death and exile.  That seems absurd…and yet, all together awesome.

Awesome enough that we get to be a part of the story.

I’ll see you Thursday, Friday, and Sunday as we remember, engage, and wonder about the awesome love of God.