The Foolishness of God

April Fool’s Day can be a pain as unfunny joke follows unfunny joke, but I’ve thinking about a friend’s remark about forgiveness which I thnk tells us something important about the foolishness of God. Forgiveness always precedes an apology — if it really is an apology, that is, not just an excuse to go over the original offence and apportion more blame. When someone apologises, it is because the grace of forgiveness has already been at work in their heart. When the Father allowed his Son to be nailed to the Cross in the greatest apology ever made to humankind, it was because he had already forgiven us all our sin. How rarely do we let that sink in! To be forgiven suggests, of course, that there is something to forgive, and most of us are reluctant to admit as much or will only acknowledge those things that don’t cause us too much inner scrutiny. Yet, even if we do marvel at the idea of God’s forgiving us, we may be puzzled by the idea of his apologising to us. I tremble on the brink of heresy here, but I’ll try to make my meaning clear in as few words as possible.

We often rage and rant at God for all the suffering there is in the world, the injustice, the natural disasters. Is God indifferent to these things? I don’t think so. Some are the result of human ignorance or malice; others are beyond our ability to predict or control. When Jesus bowed his head on the Cross all this was was redeemed, made sense of, forgiven, apologised for. We cudgel our brains over it, and rightly so. We are reluctant to admit that we have difficulty forgiving God for some of the things he has done, or for which we hold him responsible (not quite the same thing). Then we look at the Crucifix and have to think again. The tremendous act of forgiveness and reconciliation we celebrate on Good Friday is one that affects our lives here and now. What I call God’s apology sets everything right again between him and us. His humility frees us from pride and self-sufficency and those little pockets of anger and resentment we continue to harbour almost against our will. His foolishness is indeed a wisdom greater than any of which we ourselves are capable, just as his love and mercy exceed our own. No one likes being an April Fool, but to be God’s Fool, to mirror his love and forgiveness, isn’t that something worth striving for?

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