(Note: This is a reprint of my post from April 1, 2007. For another possible explanation of the origin of the day, go to today's Writer's Almanac.)
Today is April 1st and thus April Fools' Day. The extensive research I did on the subject (five minutes looking at a web site or two) revealed that the origins of the day are uncertain. The roots of the day probably lie in various pagan observances that were marked by such jocularities as dressing in costumes and playing pranks. While some efforts have been made in the past to Christianize the day, there’s really no connection. And I’m not advocating for one.
Still, maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a day when we remind ourselves that Almighty God did some mighty foolish things in carrying out his plan of salvation. They were foolish, that is, as the world reckons foolishness. He chose to have his Son come to earth to live as one of us. He had his Son leave his unrestricted existence to take on the limitations of human life. He had him leave his heavenly home where he was adored by angels to come to earth where he would be despised and rejected by people. He had him live a life in which he showed compassion and love and acceptance to the worst outcasts of his the society in which he lived. The Father chose to have his Son give his life as a ransom for undeserving and largely ungrateful humanity. He chose the Cross as the way for his Son.
So maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a day to commemorate the foolish things that God did in Jesus to bring about his plan of salvation. Wait, we do have such a day. It’s called Good Friday.
Also, maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a day when we remind ourselves that we are called to be fools for Christ. I’m frankly not too sure that very many of us really live in the foolish ways that our Lord calls us to live.
Here is what Paul said as he reflected on what it meant for him and his companions to live as “fools for the sake of Christ”: “To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clothed and beaten and homeless, and we grow weary from the work of our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly. We have become like the rubbish of the world, the dregs of all things, to this very day” (1 Corinthians 4:11-13).
It is God’s “foolish” way for his followers that we live lives that don’t characteristically lead to comfort, to prestige, and even to success as the world reckons success. Our lives are to be so counter-cultural, so opposite from the ways of the world, that we are looked upon with suspicion and even with contempt by those whose lives are ruled by another ruler. In such living lies our witness, because in such living lies the kind of weakness in which God’s strength is made obvious. Obviously, though, we need to be reminded.
So maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a day on which we can be reminded of our call to be fools for Christ. Wait, we do have such a day. It’s coming this week and every week. It comes any time that we have the opportunity to experience the risen Christ in our lives, to read the Bible that teaches us of his way, to be inspired by people who have lived and who are living the Jesus kind of life, and to let God’s grace and our faith truly take hold so that we show his love in those powerfully foolish ways.
It’s the day called Every Day.