I’ve seen people I thought were crazy.
When I was on duty as an emergency room chaplain in seminary, EMS brought in a girl one night who was diabetic. She had drank three beers, not realizing beer has sugar in it. She couldn’t have weighed more than a hundred pounds, but it took two EMTs, two orderlies, two hospital security guards and one chaplain (me) to move her from one gurney to another. She was in a diabetic rage. We had to strap her down and put her in the quiet room until she was sedated enough for the doctor to do an exam. No doubt in my mind, in that moment, she was crazy.
Crazy isn’t just about being out of control. I watched a documentary on the construction of the Empire State Building. In those pre-OSHA days, steel workers walked the beams hundreds of feet in the air without a safety harness or a net. Not one of them feel to their deaths. I couldn’t watch the show without feeling queasy. I would call those men “crazy.” Sometimes one man’s crazy is another man’s way of making a living.
I remember counseling a couple. The wife was very beautiful; the husband, average looking. Strangely, he was having an affair. As it happened, I knew the other woman involved. When they first shared their situation with me, I made a very superficial judgment and thought, “Man, you are crazy! You have a beautiful wife; why would you cheat on her?” As is always the case, the affair was a symptom of deeper issues involving him and her. After spending time with them, I realized the man was not as crazy as I thought; he was in pain and his pain was leading him to bad choices. What seemed crazy to me at first turned out to be not craziness, but pain.
We can be quick to hang the crazy label on people who are out of control, who are living in a way that would terrify us, or who are acting out of a deep pain. But that doesn’t mean they are crazy. It means they don’t fit our profile or our definition.
Did you know people thought Jesus was crazy? There were times his disciples thought he had lost it and tried to correct him. His mother and brothers believed he was delusional and came to get him. They were going to take him by force to get him calmed down. Religious scholars could not explain how he did what he did, so they said he cast out demons by the chief crazy maker himself, Beelzebub.
Jesus didn’t accept the “crazy” label. Nor did he choose to conform so everyone would stop calling him crazy. He kept being who he was (and is): A Messiah on a Mission.
His mission was to tell people the Kingdom of God has come. His death on the cross paid our sin debt so we can participate in this new Kingdom. His resurrection gives us the power to live every day in the Kingdom.
You know what is really crazy? People who would rather live in their own little kingdom of darkness, than come into the Kingdom of Light, the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus. That’s crazy.
Just one last question: Are you crazy?