Chesterton called it "the furious love of God." As Brennan Manning pointed out in his chapter "Fury" from this book we are exploring (see info at bottom), Chesterton also used the word "union." Here's what Manning wrote about this:
"But then there's also that word Chesterton used: union. That's one of the most explosive words in my Christian vocabulary. The daring metaphor of Jesus as bridegroom suggests that the living God seeks more than an intimate relationships with us. The reckless, raging fury of Yahweh culminates, dare we say it, in a symbiotic fusion, a union so substantive that the apostle Paul would write: 'It is no longer I who live, but Christ in me' (Gal. 2:20 NASB). In a fascinating footnote to that verse, the Jerusalem Bible adds: 'The living acts of a Christian become somehow the acts of Christ'...My critics...protest that I write too much about the love of God and not enough about sin and judgment and hell and how to keep Christ in Christmas. They claim that I am unbalanced, unsound, and a little bit crazy. While I plead guilty to that last charge, I am confident that God will raise up other unbalanced, unsound, and crazy writers to cry with me the French Easter liturgy:
L'amour de Dieu est folie!
L'amour de Dieu est folie!
(The love of God is folly!)"
If only I could be as "unbalanced" and "unsound" as Brennan Manning. I often feel a restless frustration within my soul that I am too balanced and too sound in an earthly, self-focused sense -- i.e. in my preposterous self-reliance and in the way I depend on my own human reasoning.
There is something child-like about this revelation of the love of God being "folly." It frees one's soul to be less inhibited about the wonderful, scandalous grace and love of God and to instead shout it from the rooftops and walk through the public square with a goofy smile on your face -- a smile of pure joy as we live and breathe the greatest, most wonderful "folly" there is: the bottomless love of God.
In truth, the French Easter liturgy is not suggesting that God is foolish or that anything He does is folly. What the liturgy is really saying is: the refinement of human wisdom and the pride and tunnel vision of our human understanding might call the wild, relentless love of God folly; but if that is folly then I hope to be the greatest fool who has ever lived! As David said, 'I will be more undignified than this,' and if it means that I must dance and cry out my praises before God with abandon as a little child might do, then that will by my wonderful, joyous folly.
The late Brennan Manning (1934-2013) wrote a book, published in 2009, called The Furious Longing of God. This blog series will go through the book, meditate on selections from it, and give the reader an in-depth look into one of the most powerful Christian books of our time.