Ken Benjamin, Chichester Baptist Church, writes:
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God… we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18, 23-24
It’s not happened in my lifetime before. The last time was 1956. But this year, Easter Sunday coincided with April Fools’ Day.
Easter Sunday and folly may not at first glance seem to be natural bedfellows, but the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians suggests otherwise.
Paul had experienced Corinth for himself. He knew the people in that city loved debating wisdom, enjoyed playing at being ‘wise’, especially through following different teachers. Paul understood just how much Christians were in a minority in the city, and how easy it was to be intimidated and feel foolish as a follower of a crucified messiah.
It’s the same for us today. Some of us may find ourselves in places where people respect our faith even if they don’t themselves believe. But others will experience something closer to the view that their faith in Christ is ridiculous. Your friends might not use the word ‘foolish’ but some of us might feel that way, just a little bit, when our colleague asks what we did with this Bank Holiday weekend. Like the Corinthians, we’re in a minority as Christians, and so it’s all too easy to pivot from Sunday celebration to Monday hesitation.
And yet, Paul writes, ‘to us who are being saved’, the message of the cross ‘is the power of God and the wisdom of God’!
It’s not a new thing for the cross to appear foolish. It’s not a new thing that taking time out to celebrate or even consider Jesus is seen as foolish. If that’s our experience, then we’re in good company.
In the days after Easter Sunday meets April Fools’ Day, perhaps even today, we may find ourselves in situations where we could easily be made to feel foolish. And, if and when that suggestion or feeling occurs, we can be reminded to focus again on the wisdom and power of the cross – just as the Corinthian Christians were encouraged to do.
May we, today and this week, contemplate and celebrate the message of the cross, Christ crucified and risen.
Ken is the senior minister of Chichester Baptist Church. He tweets as @kenlenben.