By LEON YOUNGBLOOD
An urgent rapping at Gene’s door caused him to rush outside and find a small fire on his porch, apparently a burning paper bag. His reaction was natural, and he frantically stomped the flames out. That was when he found the bag contained a generous amount of fresh manure.
Needless to say without saying what he said, Gene was irritated. It was little consolation to find he wasn’t the only one at Briar Circle to have the same experience, and there were other pranks as well: Cars and trucks with flattened tires, doors rigged to fall off hinges when opened, greased doorknobs, overturned trashcans (that may have been a bear), and other mischief. It was wondered aloud, “Who did this? And why?!” As to the “why,” the realization came quickly and was vocalized by one of the victims: “It’s April first—April Fools’ Day!”
The verbal tar and feathering the vandals then received was impressive, and impressively futile, too, without bodies to pour the wrath upon. This circumstance changed soon enough. In any small community where everybody knows everybody, news gets around quickly. The miscreants were identified within hours, and turned out to be three young men—kids, really—old enough to know better, but too immature to be able to do anything requiring intelligence or common sense.
They were accosted, apprehended, rebuked and sentenced, their embarrassed parents, guardians and keepers fully in favor of the consequences of their progenies’ actions. Restitution was promised; it began immediately. For the next three days, the humbled penitents apologized, cleaned, repaired and even paid financially for their actions.
The boys thought they were being clever, making “April fools” out of innocent victims with their impractical jokes. However, they came to the realization, they were the fools and the joke was on them. But they benefitted; for after all, experience is the best teacher. This happened four years ago. The young men have “wised up,” and thanks to the benevolent natures of (most) of our Briar Circle residents, all is forgiven. The young men, in fact, have paid many times over for former misdeeds, and we’re proud of them.
I tell this story because it came to mind after a “group discussion” I was involved in recently. Friends had gathered, the approaching Easter holiday was noted, and some of the infidels in our little group noted the proximity of April Fools’ Day to Easter Sunday this year. They thought the concurrence entirely appropriate. These persons were not merely “unbelievers”; they were antagonists, as well. They considered it fitting that the day set aside to observe what we are every other day of the year should fall during the Easter season. Anybody who believes in a historical Resurrection, that Jesus is the Christ, in Gospel miracles, in the forgiveness of human inadequacies by Grace rather than personal merit—well, believers have to be fools.
In firing these preliminary shots, they had plenty of ammunition provided by “Christians”: A media “evangelist” who requested his sycophants to provide $69 million for a private jet to “spread the word”; other media “evangelists” who tell their gullible prey they are “faithless” if they don’t send in $1,000 (checks made payable to them) of “seed money”; “spiritual specialists” who always have a book, DVD or something else to sell for God, because it will teach you more than merely reading your Bible.
Some of us countered, of course: While “there’s money in the Jesus trade,” was Albert Schweitzer a charlatan? Were C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien unlearned and ignorant? Was Mother Theresa a profiteer? Did they really believe Billy Graham, Ravi Zacharias, Alistair Begg or John Michael Talbot are insincere and crooked? The point being, if these were persons whose intelligence and integrity could not be denied—would that not validate examining the claims of Christianity? The illustration offered was, you cannot counterfeit a three-dollar bill because three-dollar bills do not exist. You can counterfeit a dollar bill, or a ten-dollar bill, or a hundred-dollar bill because that sort of currency does exist and is of value. Likewise, there are counterfeit Christians because there is the genuine article.
The point was acknowledged. But what about the “counterfeits” blending in with the church?
To me, it’s like the boys who thought they were making fools of neighbors with their impractical jokes. Like them, imposters will have an accounting. They will realize they were the fools and their joke is on them.
Have a blessed Easter.