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The Illogic of Jesus
By: Mark Mitchell, Executive Director of BASOM

One of the most challenging things about being a follower of Jesus is the illogic of so many of the things He calls us to do. We know that He calls us to obedience, but the illogic of His thinking can be a real impediment to obeying Him.

Consider just a few of His statements:

  • Jesus said to be great you must become a servant (Matthew 20:27).
  • He said to be first you must be last (Matthew 20:16).
  • He said to receive an abundance, you must give an abundance away (Luke 6:38).
  • He said to find your life you must lose it (Matthew 10:39).

From a human standpoint, none of these things make much sense. Most would think a person would be quite foolish living in this way. Perhaps this is why so many Christians settle for selective obedience, which often means we only obey Jesus if it makes sense to us. But, if Jesus is truly correct in his logic, then selective obedience will also limit our blessings. We all want to be great. We all want to be first. We all want to have an abundance. And we all want to find our life rather than lose it. But to receive these gifts we must follow the illogic of our Lord.

Perhaps at some level we can make sense of Jesus’ logic. I think of the sacrifices an athlete must make in order to eventually succeed in his sport. I think of the ways a parent sacrifices in order to eventually see their children grow up and flourish in life. In both cases, we must give up some things in order to get some even better things down the road. I think we all understand that.

But while we all understand the need to make sacrifices to achieve our immediate goals, Jesus calls us to even lay even our goals on the altar. Why? Because the blessings Jesus promised to those who obey his illogical commands are not always experienced on this side of heaven.

I recently received news that a dear friend of many years, Steve Woods, had died. What a shock to lose such a friend and follower of Jesus! Steve was a loving husband and father. He served on the staff of Young Life for decades and was loved by countless people all over the world. He was what we call “a kid magnet.” His life was all about sharing with kids the love of Jesus. He died while on one of his many ministry trips to India and Bangladesh. He had a passion for kids in that part of the world to know the love of Jesus. From a human standpoint, he could have saved his life by not making that trip. He wasn’t a young man. Why go and risk your life in such an endeavor? The answer to that question is that he trusted in the illogic of Jesus.

Consider the ultimate in illogical obedience — Jesus willingly dying on the cross. His only hope was on the other side of death. The apostle Paul went so far as to call this “the foolishness of God” (1 Corinthians 1:25). The foolishness of God does not allow for selective obedience. The foolishness of God is what led my friend to South Asia, and this is the foolishness by which he has inherited those blessings Jesus promised to those who know and obey him.