Some 30 years ago a Christian artist and song-writer, Michael Card wrote a song called “God’s own fool” for which he received some critique for. Michael Card used a language that some people thought offensive. A language not appropriate to use when describing God own Son. You find the song at the bottom of this post. Personally I love the song and the idea it presents, namely that the ways of God are so much higher than the ways of the world that they seem like foolishness to the world.
With Great Lent around the corner many Christians in the world (but not of the world) are starting to evaluate their liturgy, their way, in life. Lent has the potential to shake us up from a status quo that has turned nominal by shifting the routine, tempo and strategy of our life. Lent lends space for us to think about where we are headed if we continue the path we are on. Lets use food for example. If our normal routine is to eat seven times a day and that routine has brought us into overweight then Lents rule of fasting creates a space where we can start to see why this is so. By changing the routine we can expose the routine that does not bear good fruit. It seems like foolishness to the world to voluntarily abstain from food but then God’s strategy is different from the strategy of the world. It seems like our person as a whole is better of if we do the things that are counter intuitive to our passions.
Lent can become another ‘to do’ list if it is only utilized as such. Lent does not try to introduce more laws and regulation (don’t drink coffee, don’t do Facebook). No, the purpose of Lent is to re-introduce the purpose of the law. And what is the purpose of the law, to reveal our utter failure in trying to fulfill the law by our own strength and therefor our total dependency on Christ. The purpose of the law is to reveal our weakness and our poverty. It almost seems contradictory does it not? ‘Follow these Lenten rules so that you may realize that it is not the rules that will set you free and give you peace’. Why follow rules if they don’t solve the problem? Why obey when the act of obedience is not the solution? These are hard questions that theologians have pondered ever since Paul wrote his letter to the Romans (probably before that as well…) The Christian paradigm proclaims that we are not saved by what we do, perform or accomplish. It states that we are being saved due to Gods good will towards mankind. We are being saved because He loves us. This being the case does not mean that what we do does not matter. We will turn more and more into the thing we worship and love. Works does not save us, but that does not mean that works does not matter. Works manifests in the physical what is going on in the spiritual. The law regulates works, our action, our liturgy, so that we may realize that our works always fall short of the glory of God and the purpose He has for our lives. Fact of the matter is that we will always do something. Even if we say that we are ‘doing nothing’ we are doing that. If we say that we are worshipping nothing well then we are doing just that as well. The human person is a living creature and therefor she operates, she is active whether she wants to or not. She can’t choose to operate or not. Her freedom is limited to how she operates. Do we choose to follow our own set of rules, our own law? (Contemporary individualism) Do we choose to live after a religious system? (Judaism, Islam) Do we choose to cling to Christ in a living relationship so that we no longer see the law darkly but clearly? So that we may see, ‘from the other side’, what the purpose of the law was about all along.
Christ in His Person fulfilled the law. He did everything that the law required. He bridged the rift between our ‘being’ and our ‘doing.’ In Him, our doing is a natural extension of our being. Without Him we say one thing and do another. It is when we trust Him for our salvation (healing) that we are able to perform the true liturgy and the acts of charity that are characteristic for His very own body. Not out of compulsion (As a Christian I have to be kind) no, but out of a natural desire found in knowing that your good action is only a natural consequence of being in Christ. These works of love and charity will probably seem like foolishness to the world because they more often than not do not fulfill the requirements of what the world believe to be ‘a success’ or a ‘good investment.’ God’s wisdom seems foolish to men who rely on their own definition of the law. Not because the law is ‘bad’ but because I make myself the final judge and interpreter of the law. Lets pray for poverty during lent so that we may see God. Here is the song.
Seems I’ve imagined Him all of my life
As the wisest of all of mankind
But if God’s Holy wisdom is foolish to men
He must have seemed out of His mind
For even His family said He was mad
And the priests said a demon’s to blame
But God in the form of this angry young man
Could not have seemed perfectly sane
When we in our foolishness thought we were wise
He played the fool and He opened our eyes
When we in our weakness believed we were strong
He became helpless to show we were wrong
And so we follow God’s own fool
For only the foolish can tell-
Believe the unbelievable
And come be a fool as well
So come lose your life for a carpenter’s son
For a madman who died for a dream
And you’ll have the faith His first followers had
And you’ll feel the weight of the beam
So surrender the hunger to say you must know
Have the courage to say I believe
For the power of paradox opens your eyes
And blinds those who say they can see
So we follow God’s own Fool
For only the foolish can tell
Believe the unbelievable,
And come be a fool as well