Midweek Musing 2/10/2021
Truth, as they say, is often stranger than fiction. To illustrate this, there are few better stories than one that’s come to be known as “the FBI Pizza Caper.”
The story sounds so far–fetched that the internet fact–checking site Snopes.com decided to check it out. After researching it, they concluded that it is, indeed, true.
The location of the incident was a psychiatric hospital near San Diego. A horde of FBI agents had descended upon the hospital’s business office one morning, armed not with guns but with calculators. They were searching for evidence of insurance fraud. Quickly, the crack team of investigators set to work, reviewing files, and auditing financial records.
Many hours later, the FBI agents were starting to work up an appetite. The agent in charge phoned a nearby pizza parlor to order dinner.
The conversation, as reconstructed by agents who were there on site, went something like this:
Agent: Hello. I would like to order 19 large pizzas and 67 cans of soda.
Pizza man: And where would you like them delivered?
Agent: To the Southwood Psychiatric Hospital.
Pizza man: To the psychiatric hospital?
Agent: That’s right. I’m an FBI agent.
Pizza man: You’re an FBI agent?
Agent: That’s correct. Just about everybody here is.
Pizza man: And you’re at the psychiatric hospital?
Agent: That’s correct. And make sure you don’t go through the front doors. We have them locked. You’ll
have to go around to the back, to the service entrance, to deliver the pizzas.
Pizza man: And you say you’re all FBI agents?
Agent: That’s right. How soon can you have them here?
Pizza man: And you’re over at Southwood?
Agent: That’s right. How soon can you have them here?
Pizza man: And everyone at Southwood is an FBI agent?
Agent: That’s right. We’ve been here all day and we’re starving.
Pizza man: How are you going to pay for this?
Agent: I have my checkbook right here.
Pizza man: And you are all FBI agents?
Agent: That’s right, everyone here is an FBI agent. Can you remember to bring the pizzas and sodas to the service entrance in the rear? We have the front doors locked.
Pizza man: I don’t think so. (Click.)
It is a funny story. But I wonder if we in the church can relate. I know the early Apostles and Disciples are able to do so.
In Paul’s first chapter of his letter to the church at Corinth he makes the following statement –
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.
But we preach Christ crucified. What an incredible statement. Yet it is easy to see why folks would look at it with incredulity. Think about it just a moment. Paul is saying we call Jesus our Lord. We worship a King who was executed on a cross for the whole world to see. We put our trust in him. And we also put our faith in the crazy belief that this one who was crucified and buried came back to life.
It really does sound a bit insane.
Paul understands this. He understands that the Jews wanted signs and they wanted those signs to be the way they envisioned them. Of a king coming in on a chariot with an army in tow to throw off the oppressors. He also understands that the Gentiles of the age sought wisdom and logic and that a dead man coming back to life was anything but logical.
Paul declares that the calls for signs and wisdom are stumbling blocks that keep them from seeing the true power and wisdom of God.
Eugene Peterson’s modern day interpretation of this statement is so powerful–
The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It’s written,
I’ll turn conventional wisdom on its head,
I’ll expose so-called experts as shams.
So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn’t God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered stupid—preaching, of all things!—to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation.
While Jews clamor for miraculous demonstrations and Greeks go in for philosophical wisdom, we go right on proclaiming Christ, the Crucified. Jews treat this like an anti-miracle—and Greeks pass it off as absurd. But to us who are personally called by God himself—both Jews and Greeks—Christ is God’s ultimate miracle and wisdom all wrapped up in one. Human wisdom is so cheap, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can’t begin to compete with God’s “weakness.”
Friends while most folks demand facts and guarantees in our modern American age, the truth is the Christian walk is a journey of faith and faith alone.
Dr. King said, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” I might dare to modify that by saying that sometimes faith is taking the first step even when you are not sure the stairs are even there.
And yet that is what we do each time we worship and pray and serve in the name of Jesus Christ.
And it is also what we do when we invite others to join us on this adventure we call discipleship. Some will hear the message and the call and say I don’t think so. But many will come and see and like each of us their lives will be transformed.
What the FBI Pizza Caper fails to mention is that some pizza delivery company made a huge sale that day. Someone listened to the call and believed, and hungry folks were fed, and thirst was quenched.
May we have the faith to do likewise.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Have a Blessed Week,