when crazy is actually sane & sane is actually crazy

whats sane is crazy and whats crazy is saneone of my favorite gospel stories is the woman who busts into simon the pharisee’s house in luke 7 and falls at Jesus’ feet, wiping his feet with her tears.  in that moment, he was hanging out with the put-together, religious elite talking about theology.  they were supposedly the sane ones, and she was the crazy one who disrupts their important meeting with her public display of emotion and gratitude.

the leaders looked at Jesus–“aren’t you going to do something about this? i mean, really, come on, we have important things we are talking about (like the religious law) and you’re letting her interrupt us?” Jesus, in his wild and wonderful way, points out the mind-bender–she gets it.  do you see this, my friends, this is what i’m talking about.  this is humility.  this is heart.   this is the big idea.  this is what love looks like.

she looked crazy, but she was actually sane.

this happens a lot in the life of the refuge.  i sometimes use the word “crazy” to describe our community & i get rebuked sometimes for it because it can be misconstrued.  i think the rebukers (who do it in a good way, just so you know!) are right because that word can be misleading & i don’t mean it in a negative way.  i use it because the refuge is wild, chaotic, raw, and unedited in all kinds of ways.  at the same time, for various reasons many of us here have been somehow labeled as crazy in the broadest sense of the word, either because of life struggles or difficult experiences, mental or physical illnesses, or by bucking typical church or worldly systems.

from the outside many see the refuge as “those people”–the hurting ones, the desperate ones, the weird ones, the odd ones.  the ones who need healing in order to get with the real program.

on the outside it can look like that sometimes.  but on the inside, seriously, it’s more sane than almost anything i’ve ever seen.  the word sanity implies soundness and health.   i see, up close and personal, people who understand the kingdom of God in ways that supersede language and convention.  they see what many others can’t.  they love where many others won’t.  they risk relationship where many others don’t.

rachel held evans, one of the world’s most fab bloggers, wrote a beautiful post called blessed are the uncool that got some rocking comments about the state of the church. it was based on this post about a special needs boy who was escorted out of a church because he was perceived as being disruptive.  in different ways, it sounded a lot to me like the story of the woman at simon the pharisee’s house.  in this example, this kid represents the outcast, the fringer, the one-without-the-proper-filter-in-the-moment that the church wants to shut down, scuttle to the side so that we can “get down to business about worshipping God properly.”  when really, that moment has so much that we can learn from.

it’s not crazy at all for him to stay and be free in that moment.  to bring his real self to the community.

to me, that feels sane.

what feels crazy to me is the church’s reaction in that moment. 

in this real life story, the religious leaders thought it distracted from the more important thing–the worship & preaching in the service and that it would make attenders “uncomfortable.”  in luke 7, the religious leaders were appalled for different reasons but the issue was the same–let’s get to what we think is important–talking about theology & picking apart the scriptures.

but Jesus upheld her disruption, her crazy act, as the better thing because it was about freedom. about humility.  about beauty.  about healing.  about submitting one to another in love.

it reminds me how often Jesus did all kinds of things that made absolutely no sense to the religious system–touching lepers, restoring dignity to sinners, becoming friends with tax-collectors.  all of it seemed crazy.

in a lot of relationships i intersect with–both in and outside of the refuge–many are applying deep truths about love & healing from intense stuff & practicing really hard relationship skills that are awkward & scary & messy.  some people would say we’re crazy.

but in the kingdom of God it’s completely sane.

it makes me think of what apostle paul says in 1 corinthians 1:

“the scriptures say, “i will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.” so where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish…God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. and he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.  God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.” (vs. 19-20, 27-28)

later, in 1 corinthians 8:1, paul also has another little gem–“while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.”

and against-the-pull-toward-comfort, kingdom-inspired love looks crazy.

but it’s actually sane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

17 Comments

  • Yes! A friend of mine and I are often saying how “crazy” God is. Really, even in the OT, He was crazy, willing to violate His own appearance of proper rules following to reach down and rescue – which Jesus walked out as well. We were talking about the incident where Jesus healed the man at the pool. After Jesus told him to take up his bedroll and walk – and he did – the religious leaders were outraged….because he was carrying his bedroll on the Sabbath. Nothing much has changed. The religious are still outraged at the extravagant expressions of love from a God who will not be contained in anyone’s religious box. I think, from the beginning, God has been challenging us (humans) to break out of the comfortable way of having rules and following them to achieve acceptance – and pursue understanding – wisdom – friendship, even…to know Him rather than just know about Him. And that is a crazy journey indeed…but worth every step.

    Reply
    • so well said, katherine. i really loved this line: :The religious are still outraged at the extravagant expressions of love from a God who will not be contained in anyone’s religious box. I think, from the beginning, God has been challenging us (humans) to break out of the comfortable way of having rules and following them to achieve acceptance – and pursue understanding – wisdom – friendship, even…to know Him rather than just know about Him.” sooooo good.

      Reply
  • I understand why Jesus is there for the woman, the cripple, the hurting ones, the desperate ones, the weird ones, the odd ones, the ones who needs healing. They know they need Jesus. But the religious guys? Come on! They don’t think they need Jesus, and don’t want him. They’re happy with their theology and picking apart the Scriptures. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus was even there for those jerks?

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    • yeah, i am glad Jesus was and is there for the jerks since i have most certainly been and most certainly am sometimes now & am always in need of grace & mercy. thankfully, it’s always available. i am grateful.

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  • Love love love this post Kathy … so glad you use your voice to build one another up …

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    • thanks mar, for reading & for being here. i am so glad you are.

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  • I SO love your/this whole “upside” down concept. I think there’s a lot more out there that we see “backwards” or “wrong-side-up” and He reveals it to our hearts as we approach Him and others in love and humility. As I’ve shared with you, I believe sometimes we see JOY as equaling “worldly happiness”…wrote about that awhile ago and honestly, He revealed a poem to me from the Beatitudes…not sure if I shared that with you…
    http://blessingthebeloved.blogspot.com/2010/01/out-of-darkness.html
    Something I need to re-visit over and over and over again.
    God bless you, PK.

    Reply
    • thanks tammy, i do remember reading this one a while back. so thankful, too, for grace. and that God is always, always, always with us in the muck & the mire & on the solid ground & on the sinking sand. and that somehow trying to “figure it out” was never the idea. thanks for sharing!

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  • Kathy- your book thene just keeps becoming a bigger and bigger snowball-even though its going uphill!!! lol Had to use a topsy-turvy analogy there my friend. Your post made me think about how we reenact this scenario today. I think there is a tension that happens. Many scriptures instruct us to be holy,to be righteous,to avoid certain behaviors and to latch on to other behaviors. I think this is a lil kernel of what is similet to the pharisees. Having rules and a list of dos and donts is easier and feels more secure in a way than *crazy* love and freedom to be authentic no matter what. Theology can do that too I think. How can we love with pure abandon if we are told God only loves a certain *elect* and that He only loves those who love Him in a certain specific way???

    Keep making your love potion and sharing it as you do adventurous one 😀

    Robert

    Reply
    • your comments always make me smile, robert. i agree with you, seeing the Bible as a rule book is so limiting–and so much easier. see, it says this “here” so we can ignore the bigger idea “there” and then we always miss out on the big idea–God’s crazy love and freedom now–while we’re spending time on getting the minutia right. thank you for sharing, my friend.

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  • Oh so much of the time, your posts help remind me of what I believe..This whole downward life is really hard to explain; both the frustration as well as the beauty.. Which is one of the maaaaaany reasons we need each other on this crazy, er, sane journey. To encourage, to share hope, and to believe that the really hard intense stuff & nutty real relationship-ness is worth it. So glad to be on the crazy train to kingdom living with you. 🙂

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    • yeah, explaining it just doesn’t seem to work, does it? but there are those moments where we both see it and it’s so powerful when we can nod and go “oh, there it is, right there, something so freaking beautiful in the midst of the ugliest moment possible…..” xo

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  • About once a week I phone my writing partner cross-country and ask “Did we go crazy, or did everybody else?”

    He answers with a quote from one of the early Church Fathers:

    “There will come a time when men will go mad. And they will lay hands on the sane among them, saying ‘You are not like us! You must be mad!'”

    Reply
  • Preach it, sistah! I know a woman who I judged as probably not sane, or maybe just not competent mentally. She came to our lessons for teens, and did crossword puzzles, and played the games, and ate the food. I had not the heart to kick her out, as she was so small, hungry and needy. Fast forward a year. She has confidence. She helps with lessons. She is part of the team, not just a beggar. She has respect of the other ladies. And her children are welcome and eagerly come to our classes. I am so glad that I had the forbearance to not expel the “crazy lady.”

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  • When I first read this title, I thought it was a play on the Christian music duo “Shane and Shane.” Maybe I should start a band called “Sane and Sane.”

    Reply

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