In this day and age of instant internet research I was able to discover the origins of April 1, the day that has become known as April Fool’s Day. Back in the 1500’s there was a change in the way the calendar was constructed, and those who continued using the old calendar were referred to as “fools”. That somehow evolved into a day of playing tricks on each other. But this year April 1 also happens to be Easter Sunday, the holiest day of the year. How does one reflect on the irony of that?
Of all the churches that Paul began and maintained, it seems like the Corinthian Church was the most difficult. Part of the problems of this church had to do with the pride of those people. But you know Paul. When their pride came to the front, he would shoot them down like nobody else could.
Part of Paul’s putting these folks in their places came in the 4th chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians. Hear this: “You think you have everything you need. You think you are rich. You think you have become kings without us. I wish you really were kings! Then we could be kings together with you. But it seems to me that God has given, me and the other apostles the last place. We are like men sentenced to die. We are like a show for the whole world to see – angels and people. We are FOOLS for Christ’s sake. But you think you are very wise in Christ.” (I Cor. 4: 8-10a)
It makes us try to understand what a fool really is. I grew up hearing the word “foolhardy”. My mother would use that word when she would try to talk me out of doing some of the crazy things my high school friends were doing. “If everybody else in your class jumped off a bridge, would you?!” Think back to your earlier days and I bet you heard similar speeches.
There is much wisdom in playing it safe, in taking care of the only body you and I will ever own. But let’s face it. The most significant things that have ever been accomplished on this earth were achieved by people who were willing to risk, sometimes even their lives!
And so it was with the apostles that Paul grouped himself with. They suffered the fate of those who would speak God’s Truth to an unbelieving world. Some were crucified (although Peter asked to be crucified upside down, not thinking himself worthy to die the same way as his Savior). Others were beheaded. And others were stoned to death. They could have played it safe. They could have stayed home and lived to see their grandchildren.
But that kind of glorious foolishness wasn’t just relegated to those ancient times. We’ve seen “fools for Christ” in every age:
- A German pastor and professor named Bonhoeffer who came BACK to Germany during WW II knowing that he was on Hitler’s hit list.
- An NFL football player named Tillman who was so moved by what happened on 9/11 that he gave up his high salary job to serve as an Army Ranger. And lost his life in the process.
- An assistant football coach at a high school in Florida who so loved his students that he stood between them and an enraged young man with a gun.
What about US? What have we risked for Jesus? Have we even risked possible embarrassment that would come if we witnessed to unbelievers? Let’s get foolhardy for Jesus!