A Fool for Christ
Midland SDA Church
April 1, 2017
Depending on your perspective, today I have the honor or task to present the message. This Sabbath happens to be April 1st, also known as April Fools Day. I can remember in school, students trying to trick each other or outsmart the teacher. It was a great success to get someone to look after you told them their shoe was untied, that kind of thing. But why April Fools Day? I went to Wikipedia for help.
Apparently, there is no clear event that marks the beginning of the tradition that everyone can agree on. It is possibly tied to the time when the calendar was changed and the New Year began January 1, instead of in the spring, leading to some confusion. Celebration of the day gradually spread throughout Europe from the 1500’s onward. Various countries had/have their own traditions. In Scotland and Ireland the tradition involved getting a person to deliver a sealed message to someone. The message would read “send the fool further” or “Don’t laugh, don’t smile, send the fool another mile” or something similar. So the person who received the letter would send the person on with another letter supposedly asking assistance from someone else and so on. In France and other French- speaking areas they like to try to pin a paper fish on someone’s back without being noticed.
One of the earliest recorded pranks in England started in 1698, when some people were fooled into going to the Tower of London to watch the lions being washed in the tower moat. That was a popular prank for over a hundred years.
The Bible has quite a bit to say about fools and foolishness.
Please turn with me in your Bibles to 1 Samuel, chapter 25, where we find the story of Nabal. In Hebrew, Nabal means a fool. At this point in time David and his men were in the wilderness avoiding Saul and his army.
Read verse 2-40 (shorten or portions?)
We have the contrast between Nabal’s foolishness and Abigail’s wisdom. In Isaiah 32:6 it says, “For the foolish person will speak foolishness, and his heart will work iniquity: to practice ungodliness, to utter error against the Lord, to keep the hungry unsatisfied, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.”
Nabal was a rich man and apparently a very successful man, but he was regarded as a very foolish man.
Throughout the Bible there are many passages about fools and being foolish as compared to being wise, especially in Proverbs. Here are a few of them.
“A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is the grief of his mother” Prov.10:1
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise, a fool’s wrath is known at once, but a prudent man covers shame” Prov.12:15,16
“Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool lays open his folly. A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a faithful ambassador brings health. Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, but he who regards a rebuke will be honored. A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul, but it is an abomination to fools to depart from evil. He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” Prov.13:16-20
“Go from the presence of a foolish man, when in him you do not perceive the lips of knowledge. The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, but the folly of fools is deceit. Fools mock at sin, but among the upright there is favor.” Prov.14:7-9
“The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps. A wise man fears and departs from evil, but a fool rages and is self-confident. A quick tempered man acts foolishly, and a man of wicked intentions is hated. The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge” Prov. 14:15-18
“A fool despises his father’s instruction, but he who receives correction is prudent.” Prov. 15:5
“Rebuke is more effective for a wise man than a hundred blows on a fool. Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly” Prov.17:10, 12
“A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for blows. A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.” Prov.18:6, 7
A fool has no delight in understanding but in expressing his own heart.” Prov.18:2
“It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel.” Prov.20:3
“Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Prov.26:12
“Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him.” Prov.27:22
A lot of the emphasis in Proverbs (and other places), is on the contrast between wisdom and foolishness, righteousness and wickedness. And it becomes clear that wisdom and foolishness are not the same as intelligence and ignorance. We probably all know people who are very intelligent but not very wise or lacking an extensive education but very wise. Biblical wisdom is following the precepts of God, foolishness is walking on our own paths being lured in by Satan.
While looking into the origins of April Fool’s Day, I came across a list of some of the best hoaxes ever, some of them were very ingenious.
April 1, 1998: Burger King published a full page advertisement in USA Today announcing the introduction of a new item to their menu: a "Left-Handed Whopper" specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, the new whopper included the same ingredients as the original Whopper (lettuce, tomato, hamburger patty, etc.), but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers. The following day Burger King issued a follow-up release revealing that although the Left-Handed Whopper was a hoax, thousands of customers had gone into restaurants to request the new sandwich. Simultaneously, according to the press release, "many others requested their own 'right handed' version." Left-handed products of various kinds are actually an old joke on April first, but Burger King's announcement quickly became, by far, the most famous version of the joke.
14-The Norwegian Wine Surplus
April 1, 1950: Aftenposten, Norway's largest newspaper, announced on its front page that the government-owned Wine Monopoly (Vinmonopolet) had received a large shipment of wine in barrels, but it had run out of bottles. To get rid of the extra wine, the stores were running a one-day bargain sale, offering wine at 75% off and tax-free. The catch was that buyers had to bring their own containers to put the wine in. "Buckets, pitchers, and the like" were recommended. When the Vinmonopolets opened at 10 a.m., Norwegian wine lovers rushed to line up, forming long queues that stretched around the block. According to legend, numerous empty buckets were later seen lying in the streets, left there by people who had realized, while standing in line, that the sale was a hoax.
15-Washing of the Lions
April 1, 1698: As reported in Dawks’s News-Letter the following day, "several persons were sent to the Tower Ditch to see the Lions washed." This is the earliest known record of an April Fool's Day prank. The joke was that there were no lions being washed in the Ditch (i.e. moat) of the Tower of London. It was a fool's errand. For well over a century after this, the prank of sending unsuspecting victims to see the "washing of the lions" at the Tower of London remained a favorite April Fool's Day joke. In the mid-nineteenth century, pranksters even printed up official-looking tickets that they distributed around London on April first, promising admittance to the (non-existent) annual lion-washing ceremony.
7-Taco Liberty Bell
April 1, 1996: The Taco Bell Corporation took out a full-page ad that appeared in six major newspapers announcing it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of outraged citizens called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell was housed to express their anger. Their nerves were only calmed when Taco Bell revealed, a few hours later, that it was all a practical joke. The best line of the day came when White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale. Thinking on his feet, he responded that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold. It would now be known, he said, as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.
1-Swiss Spaghetti Harvest
April 1, 1957: The respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied, "place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best." Even the director-general of the BBC later admitted that after seeing the show he checked in an encyclopedia to find out if that was how spaghetti actually grew (but the encyclopedia had no information on the topic). The broadcast remains, by far, the most popular and widely acclaimed April Fool's Day hoax ever, making it an easy pick for number one.
29-Danish Currency Exchange
April 1, 1980: In early 1980, the National Bank of Denmark had issued a 20-kroner banknote featuring a picture of two sparrows. Curiously, one of the sparrows appeared to be one-legged. This was the backdrop for the April first announcement in the Roskilde Tidende that all bills with one-legged birds were actually fake, but that they could be exchanged at the post office for genuine bills depicting two-legged birds. The paper showed a picture of a supposedly authentic bill — which was just a regular bill onto which the paper's cartoonist, Jan Robert Thoresen, had drawn an extra leg. Lines at post offices soon became so long, with people eager to exchange their money, that post office employees had to put notices on the doors explaining that no currency exchange was taking place. Thoresen was subsequently questioned by the police, but was let go without any charges filed.
How do people fall for these? Maybe we need more science, reasoning and logic in the schools and less evolution and anything goes? The people pulling off these stunts used some truth and mixed in some error. Sound familiar?
Satan has been hard at work since the Garden of Eden, tempting us down his foolish paths leading to destruction. This has always been the case, but as we get nearer to Jesus return it appears to be getting worse. It seems that Satan is focused on making the Christian believers look like the fools of the world while the unbelievers and evil-doers are made to look wise and successful. The entertainment industry pushes this hard. When evolution was pushed into school and society, and God and prayer were pushed out, things seemed to accelerate.
Romans 1:18-23 says, (read)
Rejecting God as Creator of the world around them, mankind has become foolish.
In Matthew 7:24-27 we are called to build our lives on the Rock, on Jesus. (Read). We sing the song as children, perhaps not realizing its full message. Jesus is the Rock of goodness, truth and salvation in a world of evil lies and destruction.
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he spent a lot of time trying to show them the danger of worldly wisdom and prestige as compared to true Godly wisdom and the value of Christ’s crucifixion.
(Read 1 Cor.2:1-10, 12-14)
Again, in the 3rd chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul warns them,(and us), about the wisdom of this world.
(Read 1 Cor.3:18-20)
Paul wanted the Corinthians to truly understand what the death of Jesus on the cross should mean to them.
God wants us to understand what Jesus’ death on the cross can mean to us. This sinful earth, full of worldly wisdom, is not our final destination if we choose Jesus and what He did for us on the cross.
Apparently the believers in Corinth considered themselves wise and successful and important in the worldly sense but Paul takes them to task for their wrong thinking. He wants them to understand God’s wisdom.
(Read 1 Cor. 4:8-14)
Paul and the other apostles were willing to be “fools for Christ”. They took on humbleness and meekness, they were willing to suffer physically and socially to spread the Good News.
Noah was a fool for Christ. No matter the cost, he labored to do what God asked him to do.
While in bondage in Egypt, when the children of Israel sprinkled blood on their doorposts, they were fools for Christ.
Again, when the fleeing children of Israel were seemingly trapped by the Red Sea, I’m sure the Egyptians thought they were fools.
As they marched silently around the walls of Jericho each day for 6 days , the children of Israel were again ,fools for Christ.
What about us today? Are we ready to be fools for Christ? All around us Satan is stirring up evil and promoting a world-view where anything goes and a Christians is portrayed as odd, silly, someone to be made fun of.
(Read 1 Cor.1:18) (The scripture reading)
Are we ready to stand for the message of the cross?
Since Paul’s day, men and women have labored to spread the Good News of Jesus resurrection and the power of God. And it’s not getting any easier. Many missionaries are in difficult places around the world where they must work discretely, more by living example than by proclamation and preaching.
The country Miche’ Bade and his family are considering for their next project is one of those places. If they go there they won’t be able to openly preach the Gospel.
Are we willing to live our daily lives as fools for Christ? Are we willing to be selective about what we eat or drink? What we wear or watch? How we talk?
Many would say it’s crazy to tithe, to give away 10% of your earnings, your gain, each year. But when we tithe we aren’t giving away our money, we are returning a portion of His. Does that look foolish to the world? Probably, but I’m OK with that, I know it is God’s will, He watches over faithful tithers.
God loves us, shouldn’t we love Him in return with reverence, respect and obedience?
And as Seventh Day Adventist Christians, how about the Sabbath? Sabbath-keeping probably makes us look foolish to most other Christians as well as the world. Not only are we giving over one day a week to God, but it is a different day from most.
I wasn’t raised a Seventh Day Adventist. I didn’t keep the Sabbath. I didn’t want to keep the Sabbath. But an honest study of the Bible makes it clear, it leaves no other option. When I made that decision to keep the Sabbath, there was no question it was the right decision.
Surely there are people within my sphere of Influence that think I’m foolish for keeping the Sabbath but I will gladly be that fool for Christ. I know in my heart that it is the right thing to do.
God’s ways are the right ways. He love us and wants nothing but the best for us. He has given us a Bible full of instruction and a Holy Spirit to guide us. He has promised to forgive our sins and give us a gift of eternal life with Him in Heaven.
Surely we don’t deserve it, but out of love, Jesus paid the ultimate price for each one of us.
Even if we should have a long and full life on this earth, it is but a short time to live as a fool for Christ.
If we ask Him, He will help us.