April Fool’s Day has been around for centuries and marked by many different cultures. Although the exact origins are unknown, some link it to a switch from the Julian calendar (where the new year began around the spring equinox on April 1) to the Gregorian one back in 1582. Much like our daylight saving time fiascos, those who didn’t get the memo and failed to make the change, were jokingly referred to as “April Fools.”
Interestingly, the Bible uses the word “fool” quite often. What does it mean to be a fool according to the Bible?
The Christian faith teaches that we are the luckiest people in the world to have a savior who loves us so much that he willingly laid down his life as a sacrificial atonement for us.
In Romans 1:21-23, the apostle Paul writes, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.”
His words hearken back to the Israelites and their special relationship with God. Even though they were God’s chosen people, and God had rescued them from slavery, during adversity it didn’t take long for them to turn their attention to more tangible forms of worship – graven images and false gods.
It's easy to judge the Israelites, but we would be mistaken to do so, as this is still something we do far too often today. Instead of being grateful for all God has blessed us with, we lament all the things we wish we had.
Instead of taking even an hour out of our week to worship and praise the Lord, we are far more worried about spending time on work, or on the lake, or entertaining ourselves on our phones.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “It behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshipping, we are becoming.” Gilbert K. Chesterton adds to this thought, “For when we cease to worship God, we do not worship nothing, we worship anything.”
Some people may be “out of the habit” of church attendance following a year of covid concerns. While online church services are a true blessing for many, there have surely been some who have just tuned out of worship altogether over the past year.
What has filled the time that was previously devoted to growing in faith and praising God?
I encourage us all to think about our lives and what consumes them, what we “devote” ourselves to, and how much of our time is given in worshipping the Lord and expressing gratitude for our blessings. To miss the opportunity to grow closer to the immortal God and instead choose to focus on more trivial and mortal matters, would indeed be the Biblical definition of “foolish.” Worship not only honors God, but it strengthens us in our faith and encourages us to live in ways that reflect our faith.
So, on this April Fool’s Day, choose wisely!
Kristin Kurzejeski is a pastor at Bethel Lutheran Church, Hudson.