“Who put sugar in my salt shaker? Was it you, Christine?”
Every morning and evening my father brushed his teeth with salt. The sugar replacement was a harmless prank. He pretended to be a bit “put out” by my April Fools trick, but he joined in our laughter. We pulled the same jokes on him year after year with my mother even helping out by sewing the legs of his boxer shorts together.
We weren’t trying to make our dad feel like a fool. We didn’t yell “Sucker!” to him like mean spirited children. It was all in good fun.
Some suckers I didn’t always enjoy or get a chance to enjoy. When we went fishing, the worst catch of the day was to land a sucker with its fleshy, thick soft lips. Yuck! And growing up in a dentist’s family, we were rarely if ever treated to lollipops, suckers that bathed our teeth in sugar.
My husband’s first job was working in a greenhouse tending tomato plants. His task was to remove the suckers… the low growing shoots that would drain the nutrients from the main stem and keep the tomatoes from maturing properly.
Other things act like these annoying plant shoots. There are events, things, people who seem to suck the air out of a room. They can suck the very life out of one’s dreams or plans.
We can be suckers too. I’m a sucker for a good pun. I am also “irresistibly attracted to” my husband’s rendition of a romantic song… even when he doesn’t get all the words right.
But this isn’t the usual meaning. Most people think of a sucker as a person easily cheated or deceived. Suckers lack judgment. They are victimized. They are “born every minute,” as the old saying goes. A sucker is a sap, a chump, a knucklehead, a dope, a fool.
Fools are frequently found in the Bible. The Lord warns us to have nothing to do with them because they are a waste of our time. He tells us they argue over stupid things just to create quarrels. They create controversy for its own sake. They think it’s ridiculous to make amends for things they’ve done wrong. They are corrupt, hotheaded, and feel secure in their own wisdom. They lie and ruin people’s reputations. They delight in their own opinions and don’t hesitate to share them with anyone who will listen. They trust in themselves and say there is no God.
I sometimes wonder how God puts up with all of this foolishness. Like the Psalmist I cry out, “Rise up, O God, and defend your cause; remember how fools mock you all day long (Ps. 74:22 NIV).
I know some people even think my Lord is a sucker. After all He’s so generous to everyone, even those who deny His very existence. He sends His blessings on “the just and the unjust.” It’s as if He doesn’t realize He’s being taken advantage of!
But my Lord knows what’s going on. He has called out the true suckers of this world, the fools who think they are wise. The ones building their houses on a foundation of sand.
He knows that His plan seems foolish to the wisest, the smartest people in this world. After all, how does dying on a cross make any sense at all? What kind of victory is that really?
That’s why Paul’s message in First Corinthians is so vital to me when I am called a sucker, a fool, for believing and trusting in my Lord Jesus. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1:18 NIV). I am strengthened in my faith walk when I read, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (1 Cor.1:25 NIV).
I know all of this comes not from my own understanding. I know all of my studying and seeking could never have produced this “foolishness” that is really wisdom. If that were the case, then I couldn’t explain why others have missed out on this truth.
No, I know that it was only thanks to the Holy Spirit who reached into my soul that I can now gladly proclaim this foolishness. And I can only keep praying for that joyful understanding to soften the hearts of those who continue to defy or ignore my Lord’s call.
I enjoy being identified with the foolishness of my Savior who died for those who didn’t deserve it… including me. I rest in the foolish generosity of my God who constantly and continuously forgives my sins.
My hope is that the Spirit will continue to lead me to discern what is truly wise in this world so that I can proudly say I’m irresistibly attracted to Him.
And I can shout out for all to hear, “I’m a sucker for my Christ!”