Fools for Christ? Easter, April Fool's, and God's plan as 'divine comedy'

On this Easter Monday, the second day of Eastertide and a holiday in many places around the world, I think it is worth re-visiting the fact that, by a quirk of the calendar or the divinity of God’s good humor (or both), Easter Sunday this year fell on the first day of the fourth month, an occasion otherwise known as “April Fool’s Day.”

Unlike Christmas, the celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection is a “movable feast” and since 325 A.D., has been celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the first day of spring.

By contrast, though not movable, the origin of “April Fool’s Day” is something of a mystery. Marked by fun and often frivolous practical jokes, theories surrounding its genesis range in nature from literary to lunar. Nobody seems to know for sure how it started, but it’s so entrenched in popular culture that nobody seems to care.

At first glance, the two holidays couldn’t be more different in either substance or style. One (Easter) quite literally changed the trajectory of the world while the other (April Fool’s Day) changes nothing. One is sacred and miraculous; the other is downright silly and manufactured.

Yet, I think April Fool’s Day may very well be the perfect day for Easter Sunday.

Why?

That’s because by many of the world’s measures and standards, those of us who claim Christ are “fools” in ways large and small.

Admittedly, the Christian life is something of a paradox. We believe that giving is getting, that the weak become strong, the poor become rich, and that we’re never more alive than when we die.

Writing to a group of fledgling converts to Christianity in the ancient city of Corinth, a bustling commercial center in Greece, the apostle Paul famously reminded members of the early Church that they were to be “fools for Christ.”

His admonition was as much prophetic as it was practical. At the time, the metropolis of Corinth was very much akin to today’s New York City or Washington, D.C.  With a population of nearly 750,000 people, it was the site of political and economic power. Most of its residents were motivated more by man and money than the ecclesiastical or the eternal.

Fast forward nearly 2,000 years and, like the old saying goes, the more things change, the more they remain the same. In contrast to the prevailing wisdom of secular culture, the foundational principles of Christianity strike many as at best, odd, or at worst, downright foolish.

Admittedly, the Christian life is something of a paradox. We believe that giving is getting, that the weak become strong, the poor become rich, and that we’re never more alive than when we die.

Adhering to millennia-old Christian principles these days often invites the scorn and ridicule of the sophisticated world. For example, Christian believers in a biblical sexual ethic are often called bigots. Champions of life at all stages of development are often deemed simple or narrow-minded. Worse yet is someone who is determined to live out their deeply held religious convictions in the public square.

The unique combination of Easter and April Fool’s Day (it last happened in 1956) is a rich reminder that God’s plan for humanity is something of a divine comedy. That’s because no matter how devastating or difficult our current challenges, regardless of the extent of our faults and our failures, every need and longing we may have can be ultimately rectified and redeemed by the man whose Resurrection we celebrate on Easter.

It was the late ABC Radio commentator Paul Harvey who once succinctly suggested that Jesus lived the good life in a wicked world to show us that it could be done – and He died, and He rose again, to show us that we could do that, too.

At Easter and beyond, Christians are fools for Christ, indeed.

Paul J. Batura is vice president of communications at Focus on the Family and the author of “GOOD DAY! The Paul Harvey Story.” He can be reached on Twitter @PaulBatura or by email at Paul@PaulBatura.com.