Help Wanted: Clowns for Christ. Magicians Need Not Apply

Smoke and Mirrors.
I saw this phrase used in two different news headlines today. One local. One national.
The local headline was literal. A nearby fire department discovered the source of a house fire was actually a mirror on the door of an outside shower. When the sun hit the mirror, it set the wood shingles ablaze. Literal smoke and mirrors.
The national headline was the more traditional figurative use of the phrase – a condemnation of political maneuvering, spin and trickery aimed at President Obama’s budget deal.
So, whether literal or figurative, smoke and mirrors seems never to be a commendable combination. The phrase itself is a reference to magicians and illusionists who use deception in their stage acts and play with the audience’s perception. Certainly, smoke and mirrors should never be paired in the church. But it happens.
The temptation is certainly understandable. The world loves a good show. Las Vegas is not hurting from the recession and movie stars make millions. If the world, with its message of lies, employs the best light shows, spin-doctors, and high definition graphics, shouldn’t we? I mean, why shouldn’t we fight fire with, say, smoke and mirrors, give them the gospel but throw in a little razzle-dazzle, too? What’s the harm?
The harm is that we have not been called to be ringmasters for Christ. We are not called to be spin-doctors for the gospel. We are not called to soft-shoe people into the kingdom nor are we called to pedal Jesus as if He were a full set of encyclopedias.
I believe that is why for every story of every Bible hero, we see not only his or her heroics but also the moments they faltered and failed. God making clear that He is the power behind the biggest show on earth and that it doesn’t originate with any of us circus clowns.
That is why I believe that Christians are called to be transparent, vulnerable, and openhearted about their faltering moments as well as their victories. Christians are human. We enjoy being respected, honored, and applauded and there will be a day for that but it probably isn’t this one.
The kingdom of God may be better served if, when we arrive on the scene, rather than hearing “Hail to the Chief,” the band plays “Send in the Clowns.”
The apostle Paul seems to me to be a serious, conservative, studious man with a very low goofy factor but he wrote these words to the church in Corinth:
“Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” I Corinthians 1:20-2:5
So if Christ is served by letting my light shine then I will happily allow my tale of triumph to be told but if He is also served by feature filming my failures, more glory to Him and let the truth of my faltering moments be featured on the marquis in Times’ Square.
Because who am I, loved ones? I am worth what I am worth but I cannot forgive your sins and it was not my sacrifice that bought you free passage to eternal life. I cannot cleanse your soul nor can I heal your wounds.
We serve one another best by our willingness to point the way to Christ and that is best done through truth and revelation not through the deception and concealment of a smoke and mirrors presentation of the gospel. All you get with smoke and mirrors is a letdown after a short show and sometimes, a blaze of fire.
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1 Comment

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  1. Toyin O. says:

    Amen, I could not have said it better, if Jesus did not have to act like the world to draw people into his Kingdom,then we should not have to do the same thing. The most compelling christains are honest, transperent, and real:)