Don't be foolish

Rev Dr Kenneth Patterson

9.4.2022 | Mission in Ireland, Farming & Rural Life


April Fools’ Day is either a day you look forward to or don’t. Rev Dr Kenneth Patterson writes that most of us have been on the receiving end of a trick or two, but asks if we really want to look foolish? He recounts a time when he did look rather foolish and how Jesus tells a parable about a farmer whom He called a fool. The Apostle Paul speaks of how many people in his day considered the gospel message to be ‘foolish’.  Likewise many people today see belief in a 2000 year-old ‘story’ as equally foolish – Dr Patterson explains why it isn’t.

It is just over a week since April Fools’ Day. Most of us at times have been on the receiving end of an April Fools’ joke, where a friend or family member tries to trick us into believing something was true, when it wasn’t. And some of us may remember some famous jokes from years gone by, when large numbers of people were ‘taken-in’ by a story on the news. Do you remember, for example, the spaghetti growing on trees hoax?

Of course this is normally just a bit of silly nonsense. But seriously, having said that none of us would like to be called ‘foolish’, and none of us would want to make a foolish decision, which would have serious consequences in our homes, or on the farm. Yet, if we are honest, most of us have at times done foolish things.

A foolish turn

As a simple example I remember helping a farmer bring in barley straw at harvest time years ago. The farmer’s wife was building the bales on the trailer, and I was throwing them up and moving the tractor as needed. Now the trailer had no end-board to hold the bales on, so when I turned up a slight hill at one point, the whole load slid off the back, including the builder. Amazingly, she landed on her feet among the bales and no harm was done - the result of my foolish uphill turn.

Jesus once told a parable about a farmer whom He called a fool. You can read it in Luke 12:13-21. This man had obviously worked hard and done well, so much so that he looked ahead and decided to expand, build more storage space for his crops, and then take it easy (or so he thought). Now there was nothing wrong with his hard work, or the fact that he had become wealthy. So why then did Jesus call him a fool? The answer was simple: he forgot God!

Three important truths

You see, here are three important truths which we read of in the Bible: (1) There is a great God who made us (Acts 17:24-26), and (2) He is perfectly holy, but we have all sinned against Him (Romans 3:23). But the good news of the Gospel is that, (3) through the death of Jesus we can be redeemed, or set free from our sin, and be prepared to meet our God, if we know Jesus as our Saviour (Romans 3:24).

We are coming close to Easter now, when Christians especially remember the death and resurrection of Jesus. Writing to the church in Corinth, the Apostle Paul speaks of how many people in his day considered ‘the message of the cross’ foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18). And it is still the same today.

Many people in our society would consider that to believe in Jesus, who died on a cross to save sinners, would be just nonsense. But Paul reminds us that the opposite is true. The message of the cross is not foolishness, but rather it is ‘the wisdom of God’ (1 Corinthians 1:22-25).

So we should be wise and ‘seek the Lord while He may be found’ (Isaiah 55:6). Why? Because it would be very foolish indeed to be like the farmer in the parable, leaving God out of our thinking, and coming to the end of our life without knowing Jesus.


The former GP was ordained for the ministry in 1990. He retired in 2013 after 19 years as Minister of Castledawson and Curran Presbyterian churches in South Derry. Before becoming a minister Kenneth worked on farms during his student days. As a hobby he now enjoys restoring vintage farm machinery. 

His blog appeared in a fortnightly column entitled ‘Good News For the Countryside’, in today’s Farming Life, where people from a farming background, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. You can look at other blogs in this series here.

If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev Kenny Hanna, PCI’s Rural Chaplain at ruralchaplain@presbyterianireland.org or call him on 07938 488 372.

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