John W. Cowart
Saturday while Ginny washed outside windows I soaked my wounded foot in Epsom Salts and watched her.
I love watching her.
I was sitting in a rocker in the garden, nodding off now and then, when I got to wondering about April Fool’s Day.
I called her away from her task and asked her to bring out a couple of reference books so I could learn some stuff.
While no scholar is positive how All Fools Day got started, some speculate that it began with the Emperor Constantine who lived way back when even if you owned a castle you still couldn’t find anything good on tv so you hired a professional comedian, a clown or fool whose sole job was to amuse you.
One day Constantine overheard his fool say, “I could run this empire better that the Emperor does! I could straighten out this mess in one day”.
“O yeah,” said the Emperor, “You just try it. We’ll switch places for a single day and you’ll see how hard it is to be Emperor”.
That day fell on April First.
The fool, who was no fool, knew he’d have to go back to his old job; he wisely issued silly orders, ridiculous edicts and foolish directives for his day on the throne.
Ever since then April 1st is celebrated as a day when fools rule with all kinds of tricks.
I looked up the word fool in my dictionary and I find the word means, “a person lacking in judgment, a harmless deranged person, one without common powers of understanding, a person who is gullible, a chump”.
Why, I wondered does the Bible use the word Fool so often? Is God saying people are chumps?
This idea merited some reflection (I could see Ginny’s reflection in the back porch window as she tried to scurry a lizard out of the house).
Thinking about the Bible’s use of the word fool and being a dirty-minded old man, I naturally remembered this old joke:
This preacher expounded on the parable about the ten wise and foolish virgins, bridesmaids at the late-night party. Five of the girls brought extra oil for their lamps, five didn’t. As the hours passed the foolish ones fell asleep and let their lamps burn out while the wise girls stayed awake till the groom arrived.
As the preacher concluded his sermon, he challenged the congregation saying, “Do you want to have oil in your lamp? Do you want to stay alert? Do you want to stay awake with the wise virgins? Or do you want to sleep with the foolish virgins”?
Thank you. Thank you. No applause is necessary.(Nor likely) .
Off the top of my head I recalled one of my favorite Bible verses: the Prophet Isaiah describes a highway in the desert called the Way of Holiness, and the prophet says, “The wayfaring man, though he be a fool, shall not err therein”.
I take that to mean that we can never be too common, too dumb, too gullible, too much of a chump to find our way to God.
Salvation is not just for Mensa.
Jesus said, “Whosoever will may come”.
I pondered some other half-remembered Scriptures about fools and I looked a couple of them up in my concordance.
St. Paul said, “We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake”.
That has a ring to it.
Chumps For Christ!
Gullible For Jesus!
I’ve been told that only ignorant, gullible, deluded, deranged, chumps and fools believe in Christ.
If so, we stand in good company.
The guys who crucified Him thought Jesus was a chump.
Paul said, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness; but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God… but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men”.
Therefore, whosoever will may come.
Are we fools to believe that evil exists? That in the battle between Good and evil we live pinned down under hostile fire in enemy occupied territory? That God came to the world He created to destroy the works of the devil? That He died on the cross to save us and that, dead as a doornail, the Living God rose to life again? That He’s just that powerful? That even now, He helps us struggle across no-man’s land towards Home? That He says we are to help our fellow wounded along the way?
I have to admit that believing such stuff looks on the surface like something a gullible fool would be chump enough to fall for; after all living for Jesus costs us … well, it costs us nothing.
Whosoever will may come.
Surely there must be something more to it that that; it has to be more complicated, more complex. Surely, our life and death struggle can’t be compassed in such a simplistic view..
Or can it?
Christians are chump enough, gullible enough, fool enough, not to see a downside to this. That’s why Paul said that stuff he did, “We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake”.
But not every fool mentioned in the Bible is the Fool For Christ kind that Paul talks about.
There are plenty of the other kind.
I remember that when I was about ten years old visiting the farm, my ancient great-grandfather who sat usually on the porch in the sun sleeping with an open Bible on his lap, he drew me aside one day, sat me down in the porch swing and handed me his Bible open to the book of Proverbs. He made me read aloud chapters five through eight — chapters about how STRANGE WOMEN lure young men called fools, “void of understanding” into her house and she drapes her bed with perfumed sheets and her husband is out of town and “with her much fair speech she caused him to yield and he goeth after her straightway as an ox goeth to the slaughter or as a fool to the correction of the stocks; till a dart strike through his liver”.
That’s one mean woman.
The old man asked me if I understood what I’d just read.
Being ten years old and not wanting to appear a fool in the old man’s eyes, I said, “Sure, Grandpa” although I had no idea what a strange woman looked like and I wondered how you could tell a strange woman from the other kind.
Are there any other kind?
Every woman I’ve ever met is strange.
So Grandpa’s lesson from Proverbs was a wash for me.
But yesterday I looked up several of King Solomon’s Proverbs having to do with fools. There are lots of them but here are a few gems:
· “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding”.
· “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes.”
· “Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly”.
· “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly. Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? There is more hope for a fool than for him”.
· “A wise man feareth and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth and is confident”.
Here’s a Bible passage that says I’ve been writing way too long again:
Wise King Solomon also said, “The lips of a fool will swallow up himself. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness and the end of his talk is mischievous madness. A fool is also full of words”.
I can take a hint.
I’ll quit writing now… but I’m having such fun with this…
But before I stop, I have a question: Why is it that — other than those five foolish virgins in Jesus’ parable — every fool mentioned in the Bible is male?
Got any ideas about that?
Happy April Fool’s Day!