Today is a day for fools

Every year on the first of April, we all proceed a little more cautiously. We read social media with a little more skepticism. We’d rather be on the inside of an inside joke than to discover that we are the butt of one.  This is a day for fools, and we’d really rather not be taken for one.

For the Christian, every day is a day for fools, for we are fools for Christ.

First Corinthians 1:18-25 reads:

“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. For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous 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 man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”

As we reflect on Palm Sunday, consider the fool’s errand of going to retrieve the colt of a donkey for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem. As we consider the events of Holy week, consider the foolish challenge to Temple authorities in turning over the tables of money changers; consider how Judas was played the fool and how Jesus was condemned a fool by the Jews and Romans alike.  There’s no question that April is a month for fools when it comes to Christianity.  As we approach Calvary’s cross and Easter’s empty tomb, we are wise to remember that in the eyes of the world, the claims of both are foolish.

The Corinthians, to whom Paul wrote, valued human wisdom. They esteemed knowledge, ability and instruction. They scorned ignorance.

But the gospel upends every possible piece of conventional wisdom. Human wisdom says, “come as a King in battle,” but God came as a helpless baby, born in poverty, riding into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey, mocked and crucified.  Human wisdom says, “Spend time with the powerful, connected and wealthy,” but Jesus gravitated to the outcast, the sick, rejected and needy. Human wisdom says, “establish a political kingdom with armies, consolidate power, and rule from a position of power.”  God calls forth a ragtag church made of imperfect humans and sends them into all the world with the power of His Holy Spirit.

Human wisdom has no category for a God who would condescend to earth, live among sinners and die the death we deserve. Our logic-driven minds cannot comprehend why the Holy Almighty would subject Himself to a humiliating criminal’s death on the cross.

Add to that the fantastical claims of the resurrection, which sounds like folly to a person who has been taught to trust nothing they cannot see with their own two eyes, touch with their own two hands and verify with their own empirical experience.

No wonder we seem to be fools to those who do not believe. But we do not boast in our belief, far from it. We acknowledge that we know what we know by grace alone. Indeed, it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit revealing the truth of the gospel that we are enabled to comprehend.

From the vantage point of the non-believer, Jesus was on a fool’s errand all along. A good guy who got caught up in a bad political and religious system that did him in.  They see wisdom to be learned from him as a good teacher, but they see no power in the Cross and no glory revealed in the empty tomb. How then will they come to embrace the foolishness of the Gospel which has the power to redeem? That’s where we come in…

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? (Romans 10)

When it comes to the Cross, count me a fool.