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A Thoughtful, Hopeful Fool

April 1 … April Fools’ Day.  

An interesting word history for “fool”

Word History: The pejorative nature of the term fool is strengthened by a knowledge of its etymology. Its source, the Latin word follis, meant “a bag or sack, a large inflated ball, a pair of bellows.” Users of the word in Late Latin, however, saw a resemblance between the bellows or the inflated ball and a person who was what we would call “a windbag” or “an airhead.”  The word, which passed into English by way of French, is first recorded in English in a work written around the beginning of the 13th century with the sense “a foolish, stupid, or ignorant person.”

Word Histories and Mysteries: From Abracadabra to Zeus. (2004). United States: HMH Books.

April Fool Day – Of unknown origin

There is no specific origin of April Fools day. Some say it is related to a change in the calendar when “new year’s day” was moved from April to January. Others say the celebration of the day is much older than that.

The origin of April Fools’ Day is unknown but there are some theories. One is that religious hold-outs in the 16th century refused to celebrate the re-established New Year’s date on January 1st, preferring the end of the holy week in early April, making them “April Fools.” Another is that it relates back to the Roman god Ceres being fooled by Pluto when he stole her daughter in what is now early April. Finally, a third theory is that it relates to the vernal equinox the the trickiness of the seasons during this time.

Merriam Webster

Trickery – elaborate or straightforward!

Over the years, the trickery associated with April Fools has changed. It used to be a simple, “your shoe is untied!” But now it can be an elaborate news headline!

The top-ranked April Fool of all time, according to the Museum of Hoaxes, was Panorama’s 1957 report on how Swiss farmers on the shores of Lake Lugano were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop thanks to the elimination of the dastardly spaghetti weevil and one of the mildest winter in living memory. Gullible viewers, convinced by a charming video showing peasants harvesting strands of pasta, flooded the Beeb with queries as to how they might grow their own spaghetti tree.

Lucy Vickery, The Spectator, 1 Apr. 2017

Foolishness in scripture

April Fools’ Day can be great fun. I loved watching kids “prank” one another in school – the pranks that weren’t mean. But being a “fool” has its dangers, according to scripture. In Proverbs, the word “fool” can refer to a morally corrupt person or to someone acting stupidly, from the Greek root, “Moros,” from which we get “moron.”  Obviously, foolishness is not helpful, nor does it honor God. Jesus listed foolishness among several sins, including murder!

And then he added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”

Mark 7:20-23 NLT

The foolish plan of God

Some even look at this season of Lent as foolish. To the unbeliever, it just doesn’t make sense. Some even mock the cross, but to those who believe, the cross demonstrated God’s power, love, and humility in establishing the new covenant! It’s by God’s will that we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus the Messiah, once for all.

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. … Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25 NLT

We are called to be thoughtful, hopeful fools

The author of Hebrews tells us that by a single sacrifice, Jesus made perfect forever those who are sanctified. We are transformed, given a new heart and new mind – for now, we have the Spirit of God living within. He reveals the profound truths of God’s wisdom to us as we mature in Him. Through the power of the Spirit, we can understand the significance of the cross moving us to worship the Savior, who is worthy to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!

To be a Christian, to be obedient to God’s word, to be truly wise, you must become a fool. Thoughtful fools? To be sure. Hope-filled fools? To be sure. Happy fools with lots of serious joy? To be sure. But fools, nevertheless — unashamed, happy fools. Not self-pitying, not dour, not defensive, not forlorn, not miserable, not “oh-poor-me” fools, but unashamed, happy, hope-filled fools for Christ.

John Piper, Will You Become a Fool for Christ

We don’t want to be considered foolish often, especially on “April Fools Day.”  But we are called to be “fools” for God! May it be so!

When we in our foolishness thought we were wise,
He played the fool and he opened our eyes.
When we in our weakness believed we were strong,
He became helpless to show we were wrong.
And so we follow God’s own fool,
For only the foolish can tell.
Believe the unbelievable,
And come be a fool as well.

Michael Card
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