As this is April Fools’ Day, it seems fitting to consider the link between faith and foolishness. Certainly, there are those folks who think that belief in God, or in Jesus as God’s son and our savior, is indeed foolish. Once a woman I worked with asked me how anyone who was intelligent could possibly be a believer. After all, how could anyone with a rational mind believe in such things? How could someone believe without proof? How could someone believe all those miracles in the Bible?

For some folks, faith seems incompatible with reason, logic, science, intellect, etc. This is not anything new. In fact, Thomas Jefferson, though a believer in God, didn’t believe in Jesus’ miracles. He even took a razor to his Bible to remove all mentions of Jesus’ miracles and most references to Jesus’ divinity.

And then there are the values held by most people of faith. Values that are often in conflict with those held by much of our society. People of faith value concern for and service to our neighbors, especially the disenfranchised, while our society tends to value profit, power and self-reliance. And so those of faith may be thought of as fools to donate time and money helping others instead of enriching themselves. Again, this is nothing new. In the decades after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, cautioning them about following “the wisdom of the world.” Paul states that “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom,” and that “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise.” I don’t know that people of faith help others in order to shame the wise, though that may be an effect.

In addition to this being April Fools’ Day, this is also Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday, which is the day the church remembers Jesus’ last meal with his disciples. That meal was when Jesus bent down to wash the feet of his disciples, humbling himself for their benefit. That meal is also when Jesus gave his disciples, both those in the room then and those who follow him now, a “new” commandment: love one another as I have loved you. Jesus showed his love for the disciples by being of service to them.

Another way Jesus showed his (and God’s) love for others was to help those in our world who were most in need: Jesus fed the poor, healed the sick, mingled with outcasts and socialized with the sinners and tax collectors. If we are to love as Jesus loved, those are the behaviors we are called to emulate, no matter how foolish they may seem to the rest of the world.

———

The Rev. Roberta Smythe has been the pastor at Zion Lutheran and St. Peter’s Episcopal churches in La Grande since September 2019. She previously served churches in north-central and northwest Montana. She was raised in the Oregon City area and has degrees from the

University of Oregon and Pacific

Lutheran Theological Seminary.

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