Church Off Course – A Response to ‘The Man Jesus Called A Fool’ by MLK

I spent Friday night with my mentor, Marshall Ganz. Who recommended I read one of MLK’s sermon’s: The Man Jesus Called A Fool.

Here MLK preaches on the story in Luke where Jesus chides a man for storing his wealth for the future. In this story the wealthy man dies before he has the opportunity to enjoy or distribute all he has earned through his work. King makes it clear that this is not an admonishment of wealth in and of itself but how we interact with our wealth.

In this sermon King is preaching to wealthy blacks in Illinois and challenging them to discern if they have let the accumulation of power (their wealth) become more important than the cause of equality for themselves and their fellows. He calls out people who are focused in the results of their labor: cars, homes and status rather than remembering that those things are a resource and/or a by product but not the end goal in the fight for equality. King summarizes the problem by saying, “And so this man was a fool because he allowed the means by which he lived to outdistance the ends for which he lived.”

It is my deep concern that the current Christian church risks becoming a fool. We have forgotten our charge to free captives, heal the sick, restore the broken. Instead we are focused on maintaining our property, our status, our power, our presence in the world. Rather than proclaim a message of love and justice we would rather preach something ‘safe’ that keeps people ‘happy’ with the church.

The result of this is that oppression still exists: people believe they are not gods children because we reject their very being and deny others the basic goods necessary for a satisfactory life.

The church exists for the sole purpose of freedom in Christ. That is it. The buildings and liturgies and programs and services are beautiful but only to the end that they being us closer to this purpose. It is my prayer and hope that we would not be a fool, that we would examine the ways we prioritize the mans and release them in any instance that they prevent is from offering freedom to our fellows.