By Henrik Sonne Petersen
Working in the field of mission and theological education for many years I am repeatedly faced with a feeling of being useless, a kind of fool. The work is not progressing significantly. Looking back, I realise people were dealing with the same issues 20, 50 and 100 years ago – sometimes in more progressive and eloquent ways! Furthermore, I am reminded again and again how little I really know and how little I have achieved despite all my efforts. It makes me feel uncomfortable and vulnerable, especially in an urbanized, modern society, where status and success are highly valued.
Looking back in time even more, the Apostle Paul knew the feeling of foolishness. “We are fools for the sake of Christ,” (1 Cor.4: 10), which gave rise to the movement of “fools for Christ,” the ascetics and monks of the early church known also as holy or blessed fools. This Godly foolishness is not, however, about giving up thinking. If things are not going as hoped, it could be a vital reminder that we can do better. We must act in line with solid evidence and viable action plans. Yet this sense of foolishness could also be related to our fellowship with Christ – a fellowship of being (following him that emptied himself, serving God and humankind). It can look inefficient and foolish in the world’s eyes, but may be a transforming expression of God’s love for people.
This week, are there places you feel useless and inefficient? Is this a reminder to do better? Or should this be embraced as a consequence of fellowship with Christ?