Sunday was Resurrection Sunday, our annual celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ! It also happened to fall on April Fool's Day this year, so I couldn't resist bringing the two occasions together as we read 1 Corinthians 4:9-13.
There's something in me that has always embraced April Fool's Day. I own it. It's as though I've been given permission to prank, gag, and kid around for my own personal enjoyment. I thoroughly enjoy practical jokes. On April Fool's Day in 1957, the BBC did a feature program on their show "Panorama" with covered the story of Swiss women harvesting spaghetti from trees and drying the pasta in the sun. The public bought it, and the BBC was inundated with phone calls from the public wanting to know where they could buy their own spaghetti tree and how to plant it.
But April 1st this year was also Resurrection Sunday. Christians have for a very long time been considered foolish for their belief in Jesus, particularly the cross and resurrection. But Paul embraced the title "Fool". He wasn't insulted by such accusations but was instead willing to cope with looking foolish for Christ. I think to follow Jesus, we have to embrace how foolish it seems to those who do not believe.
Let me explain why I think following Jesus looks so foolish to others:
1] It seems foolish because it is unnatural. Turn the other cheek? Love those who hate you? Do good to your enemy? It seems almost everything Jesus taught us counters what is acceptable in society. It's an unnatural approach to life guided by instincts. Add to that the surrender of the cross, healing the sick, and the resurrection, and Jesus is a mixed bag of very unnatural things.
2] It seems foolish because the majority reject it. Some say belief in Jesus is unreasonable; some say it's insane and want it diagnosed as a mental illness. The teachings of Jesus are always different from the prevailing opinions and philosophies of the time, and scholars (and others) have always tried to poke holes in Jesus. [1 Corinthians 1:21-24] Go ahead, though. Poke. Prod. Examine. Test. Genuinely search for Truth. Many before us have come to Jesus through reason and a genuine search. Our reason can bring us to Jesus, but we will still have to be foolish enough to then embrace him and follow him. Jesus knew he would be rejected, and he told us we would be rejected, too (and we don't like that idea very much). Jesus always challenges the prevailing wind of the day, so we can expect some level of rejection along the way.
3] It seems foolish because it looks weak. Paul didn't always embrace weakness. He was formerly a Pharisee (a persecuting, zealous & arrogant Pharisee) who was hell-bent on annihilating those he opposed. But then he met the risen Christ and was immediately weakened by the encounter. After he met Jesus, he realized just how weak he really was. It's tough to admit our need for something or someone...but that's a starting point for our relationship with Jesus. We need him. I need him...and if that makes me weak, then I guess I can admit it.
Believing God and trusting Jesus makes so much more sense when we accept and embrace the foolishness of it all, and I'd rather look foolish in the eyes of those who scoff than I would in the eyes of my Father.
So here's my Easter confession: I am a stooge, buffoon, clown, idiot, & moron; a nitwit, dimwit, and nincompoop; I am 'one of those suckers born every minute', a bonehead, a clod and dunderhead; I am an ignoramus, imbecile, and simpleton.
And I am in good company.
Christ is risen!