Many observe the first day of April as an occasion for practical jokes and deceptive news releases. I remember when I was a teenager in University of Tennessee sports-crazed East Tennessee that a Knoxville newspaper published a report that the university basketball team had recruited and signed an eight-foot tall player who surely would lead the schools program to greatness. It was an April Fools Day hoax. There was no such signing. When a psalmist wrote in Psalm 14:1, ‘The fool says in his heart, “There is no God,” he did not refer to humorous hoaxes. He did not focus on atheists, either. He concentrated on people who profess belief in God, yet act as if he does not exist. They do “abominable deeds” (verse 1), they have become corrupt (verse 3), and they do not call upon the Lord (verse 4). Because they have turned away from God, they “are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous” (verse 5). They have neglected what they knew; they have spurned their source of hope. As they pursue their godless course of action, they scorn those who remain faithful to the Lord who is their only true refuge.
We pursue the course of the godless when we neglect biblical values by compartmentalizing our lives, living by one ethical code at work and another when at worship. We pursue the course of the godless when we minimize the value of life by approving of mistreatment of the vulnerable in our society, whether they are unborn babies, the aged, the poor, or the mentally ill. We pursue the course of the godless when we laugh at those who value faithfulness to God and give our allegiance instead to political agendas or cultural trends.
As we reflect on Psalm 14, let’s resolve to act with integrity in our dealings with other people. Let’s remember that God values highly the helpless and calls us to treat others as we would wish to be treated. And let’s pray for an end to the worship of slander and corruption in our world. But first, let’s look within ourselves and evaluate our own relationships with God. Let’s return to the one who truly protects in time of terror.
O God who was, who is, and who is to come, May we humble ourselves before you as each of us becomes accountable to you in our speech and our actions. Deliver us from acting like fools. Give us courage to treat others as people who have your image within them. Give us the spiritual and moral strength to defend those who cannot defend themselves. Ignite our faith and forgive our moments of doubt as we recognize your reality and return to claim refuge with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.