J John is an internationally recognised Christian speaker and author. He has written over 50 books and spoken in 69 countries, teaching the Christian faith and addressing over 300,000 people in person each year. His series Just 10 (on the Ten Commandments) has now exceeded one million people in attendance.
When it comes to April Fools’ Day, human ingenuity seems to know no limits. Let me list a few of my favourite hoaxes and pranks from April the 1st:
- The full-page advertisement by Burger King announcing the arrival of the Left-Handed Whopper burger, ‘especially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans’.
- The statement that the next pope-mobile would be pulled by a donkey.
- The announcement from Virgin Atlantic that they would launch an Airbus with a transparent viewing strip on the bottom so that passengers could look straight down onto clouds.
- The New Zealand DJ who warned listeners that a mile-wide wasp swarm was headed towards Auckland. (A good number took his advice to defend themselves by leaving home wearing their socks over their trousers.)
- The official US Military statement announcing a new program in which trained cats would work alongside soldiers on the front line.
- And finally, one that would trouble anyone like myself, who is a Greek speaker. The confident declaration that, as a condition of the EU rescue plan for the troubled Greek economy, the Greeks were going to have to abandon their ancient alphabet and use the same Latin characters as everyone else!
Such hoaxes are so widespread, that come the 1st of April, we find ourselves on guard; checking our email, twitter or Instagram with suspicion. No one likes to be made a fool of.
I like April Fools’ Day tricks, not simply because these pranks bring genuine amusement, but for a far deeper reason: they puncture pomposity and deflate those who are inflated with pride.
A particular concern of mine is the way in which pride gives people immunity against Christianity. To become a Christian is to admit that you have failed morally and that the only thing that can save you is Jesus Christ. Authentic Christianity is a faith for those who know that they are bankrupt before God. We need to be humbled to become a Christian. The sneer is that Christianity is ‘a religion for losers’; the correct response to that allegation is, ‘Exactly!’
Many people refuse to even consider Christianity because in their pride, they consider that it is foolish. To pray to God, to trust in Jesus, to believe the Bible, to stand up for good regardless of what other people think – this for them is the height of foolishness. In a way they are right. By the standards of this world, to be a Christian is to be a fool. Yet I believe that we must all be called a fool in one place or another. In the Bible we read these words; ‘The fool says in his heart, “There is no God”’ (Psalm 14:1). In the Bible, to be a ‘fool’ is not to be intellectually stupid; it is to be someone who wilfully ignores God. The Bible is saying that God’s verdict on someone who does not believe in him is that they are a ‘fool’. We must, it seems be considered fools either by God or by our fellow human beings.
It’s infinitely better to be considered a fool in this life by human beings than to be considered a fool eternally by God. So if this April the 1st you are humbled by some hoax, then be glad; it’s probably good for you. And if you are considered a fool for Christ, then be happy!