The story goes that an atheist became enraged over the preparation for Easter and Passover holidays and decided to contact the local American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) about the discrimination inflicted on atheists by the constant celebrations given to Christians and Jews with all their holidays while the atheists had no holiday to celebrate. The case was brought before a judge who, after listening to the lawyer, declared, “Case dismissed!” The lawyer immediately stood and objected to the ruling and said, “Your honour, how can you possibly dismiss this case? Surely the Christians have Christmas, Easter and many other observances. And the Jews – why in addition to Passover they have Yom Kippur and Hanukkah…and yet my client and all other atheists have no such holiday!” The judge responded: “Obviously your client is too confused to know about, or for that matter, even celebrate the atheists’ holiday!” The lawyer replied: “We are aware of no such holiday for atheists. Just when might that be, Your Honour?” The judge said, “Well, it comes every year on exactly the same date – April 1st!”
Whether that story is true or not, I don’t know. I wish it was. But one thing I do know is that Easter 2018 is giving us something rare. You might’ve noticed that this year, Easter Sunday falls on April 1st – April Fool’s Day. And I couldn’t let this rare occurrence go without comment. After all, the last time that this happened was 1956!
At first thought, it would be easy to assume that Easter Sunday and April Fool’s Day have no link – nothing for us to draw upon. However, the Bible talks about the fool quite a lot. Not the April kind of fool…but the fool when it comes to the things of God and eternity. The book of Proverbs alone mentions the fool 71 times. Bible commentator David Guzik defines this foolishness as “more moral than intellectual”.
Perhaps the most famous verse regarding this kind of fool is Psalm 14:1:“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’”. John Gill, in his commentary on this verse, defines the fool of Psalm 14:1 as “not such who are idiots, persons void of common sense and understanding; but such who are fools in their morals, without understanding in spiritual things; […] alienated from the life of God; and whose hearts are full of blindness and ignorance, and whose conversations are vile and impure, and they enemies of righteousness”. David Guzik writes that King David, when writing this Psalm “did not have in mind those not smart enough to figure God out (no one is that smart); he had in mind those who simply reject God”. That is, those who refuse God’s gift of salvation.
David Guzik goes on to offer a list of foolish characteristics found in a God-denying man.
- He denies what is plainly evident
- He believes in tremendous effect with no cause.
- He denies a moral authority in the universe.
- He believes only what can be proven by the scientific method.
- He takes a dramatic, losing chance on his supposition that there is no God.
- He refuses to be persuaded by the many powerful arguments for the existence of God.
As I have gotten older, I have come across many people that exhibit these characteristics and are loud and proud about it. People who, by the world’s standards, are anything but fools. In fact, they are highly educated people, with some of them holding powerful positions in some of our best academic establishments. But they are nothing more than educated fools. No amount of schooling, qualifications, diplomas, degrees, or special honours will compensate for the foolishness that comes when you refuse to acknowledge the one true God.
It’s sad that, for many, the only significance of this coming Sunday will be that it’s April Fool’s Day. Not that there is anything wrong with April Fool’s Day – I enjoy a good prank as much as the next person. And I’m sure Jesus did too – I’m sure I’m not the only one who likes to imagine that Jesus cracked a good joke or two with His disciples, or that He liked to hide behind doors, waiting for His Mum to enter the room so He could make her jump.
I started this article by pointing out the rare occurrence of April Fool’s Day falling on Easter Sunday. But this will roll around again – we will see this rarity again. In 2029 to be exact. But one thing that won’t happen again is Jesus’ resurrection on that first Easter morning. What won’t happen again will be Jesus having to sacrifice Himself for our sins – He paid that price once and for all. What isn’t guaranteed to happen again is that we’ll have another day, like this, on this earth. What isn’t guaranteed is that God will keep knocking on the door of those who’s hearts are stubbornly closed off to Him. When we fight to get our way, and are determined to fight against God, there will come a point when God lets us have it our way.
Whether you’ve watched TV show The A Team or not, chances are that we’ve all heard character Mr. T’s famous catchphrase “I pity the fool”. Perhaps pity isn’t the first emotion and reaction that comes to mind when we think of those who reject God. But after reading some words from A.W. Tozer, I would contend that those who reject God are exactly those we should pity. Tozer writes “The sinner can never be quite himself. All his life he must pretend. He must act as if he were never going to die, and yet he knows too well that he is. He must act as if he had not sinned, when in his deep heart he knows very well that he has. He must act unconcerned about God and judgment and the future life, and all the time his heart is deeply disturbed about his precarious condition. He must keep up a front of nonchalance while shrinking from facts and wincing under the lash of conscience. All his adult life he must dodge and hide and conceal. When he finally drops the act he either loses his mind or tries suicide.” How miserable life must be without God.
The sad reality is that the world has been tricked – fooled – into believing that humanity can do without God, that they know better than God. They try to take God out of the equation. And many don’t even know they’re doing it. Many just don’t know any better. What troubles me is that in many places this Easter Sunday, more will be found playing April Fool’s pranks than remembering Jesus’ resurrection and the sacrifice that He made for humanity, bearing our sins on a cross that He did not deserve, promising those who follow Him an eternity with Him in Heaven. How grieved God must be to see the ungratefulness of His creation as humanity fails to give Him His rightful place. Our entire salvation hinges on Jesus’ resurrection!
This April 1st, let us not be too busy covering toilets in clingfilm and covering door handles in Vaseline (as funny as these things are) to remember what God has done for us through Christ. If we must be fools, let us not be fools against Christ, but fools for Christ. Let us be followers. Pastor Jim Elliot wisely writes “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”. May that quote be found to be true of us. May we not be found to be fools who praise God with our mouths, but don’t praise Him with our hearts. May the words of our heart be “There is a God, and He loves me”.