This is the month when NCAA basketball tends to push other things to the margins. If you are a basketball fan, it doesn’t get any better than this. When the Cinderellas of the basketball universe knock off the top seeds, it is the annual cultural sign of hope. Norfolk State defeated mighty Missouri. Then, within an hour, Duke was sent home from the tournament in the first round by Lehigh. The world of twitter went wild. You would think that Pearl Harbor had been bombed all over again. Why the “madness” about March madness? Well, it was a message to all the underdogs in the world that unexpected things can still happen. It rekindles our capacity to be surprised. Life doesn’t always unfold in the way everyone expects or predicts. Life is filled with surprises and “aha” moments.
The Christian faith is, fundamentally, a message about God’s capacity to surprise the human race. The gospel is filled with so many unexpected moments… a king born in a Bethlehem stable…. a virgin carrying a child… a king crucified on a rugged cross… a tomb found empty… fishermen turned into Apostles… sinners like you and me turned into forgiven saints. We must never lose the surprise factor inherent in the gospel. Peter was shocked that God would pour out his love and mercy on Gentiles like Cornelius’ household. They weren’t supposed to speak in tongues, much less do it before they were even baptized! There are few things more surprising in the world than God’s love. Do you realize this day how much God loves Muslims? Can we fathom his deep love for homosexuals? God loves church bureaucrats. God loves both Barak Obama and Newt Gingrich. God, amazingly, even loves Seminary Presidents. This is not just March madness… this is divine “madness.” This is the foolishness of the gospel which actually transforms the world… and surprises it, too.