Well, you learn something new every day, don’t you? It seems that during this Corona Virus outbreak, the rules change every day, what we can do, what we can’t do. There used to be a world we could count on, a world that was reasonably stable and in which the rules we all play by were well known. Now it changes every hour. Enough to cause a little stress? You bet.
April first is usually a day when I might have stressed about a prank, or to take everything with a grain of salt, because there are some elaborate pranksters out there. But today, I don’t think the pranksters can really do any worse than what has already been done. They have to stay home anyway.
Paul counsels foolishness for us this morning. He says we need to become fools to become wise. One command that occurs throughout the New Testament is “Be not deceived”, as if there is a danger that Christians could become deceived. I believe there is. which is why Paul counsels us in this way. Don’t consider yourself wise, or “too smart for that.” There are many Christian ministers and scholars who have gone down a rabbit hole only to repent later in life for their folly. As Christians, we are a peculiar people, but some take it a bit too far, whether its banning musical instruments, or banning the eating of certain foods, never wearing makeup, or women never wearing pants or cutting their hair. In every Christian denomination, you can find something odd, like the handling of snakes, that just seems foolish. More often than not, it is the taking of one verse out of context, or exaggerating the importance of a single verse over all others.
But what we find is that such exclusionary rules tend against love and tend toward judgment. I have found members in many of these sects to be unloving and judgmental. If you don’t abide by their standards of holiness, you are not welcome. You have to change your life to meet their criteria. My son explained it this way just last night. There is a difference between piety and holiness. Piety is an outward show of one’s devotion to a particular religion. Piety is showing up for church every Sunday, with or without a social distancing order, or despite of one. Piety is proclaiming you are more righteous than others because you do something others do not do, like eating only vegetables or never wearing fur. Piety goes forth and declares how holy it is. But not holiness.
Holiness may do all of those things, but it doesn’t declare them. You have to look for holiness because it will not announce itself. Holiness will attend services not to show that it can, but because it is devoted to the One who saved him from sin. Holiness looks above, not to its peers. Holiness will fast and will pray, but you may never know it.
So I have seen many pious people, looking down their nose at others who don’t practice the way they do, but not many holy, because the holy never announce themselves. The holy carry on with their faithful practice, not looking for separation, but that they might attract others with their quietness, simplicity, and genuineness.
So lest anyone think they are wise because they practice a particular thing, worship God in a particular way, or defy a social distancing order, let them consider themselves fools before God. Let us examine ourselves to see if our way is right. Am I doing this particular thing because I think it makes me look religious, or because it pleases God? Do I worship God in this way because I’m right and everyone else is wrong, or I’m wrong and need to be right with God? Maybe there is room enough for us all to be fools today.
Heavenly Father, help me unlearn those things which have made me look down my nose at my brothers and sisters. Help me see my own practices and pieties for what they are: pride. Help me to see Your path of holiness. Call me in quietness and joy. Call to me from Your Word and Your work. In this time of social isolation, quiet the voices that call me away from You. Help me to listen with better ears. For Your judgment alone matters in my life, not what others think of me. Thank You Lord for calling me Yours and calling me after the name of Your Son, Christ Jesus. In His Name I Pray, Amen.
Before I finish, I was looking for the origins of April Fools’ Day and found this snippet below from the following website. Have you ever heard of these “biblical” origins for April Fools’ Day?
Another belief on the April Fool’s Day origin points to the biblical character Noah as the first “April Fool”. It is said that on April 1, he mistakenly sent the dove out to find dry land before the waters subsided.
A second story tells that the day commemorates when Jesus was sent from Pontius Pilate to Herod and back again. “Sending a man from Pilate to Herod”, is an old term for sending someone on a fool’s errand.