God's Folly

by Arthur W. Anderson

The French, we are told, celebrate Easter with an upending phrase, "L'amour de Dieu est folie!" — God's love is God's folly. If sung with a lilt, here is a line that could rescue us from the grave of dead assumptions.

When Richard Williamson was introduced as the new coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team, he pledged he would turn his team around from its unhappy 6-10 season. If he did this and kept on winning, the owner promised him a life-time contract. But, as Hubert Mizell of the St. Petersburg Times put it: "Richard Williamson's honeymoon was over before he said 'I do.' " Only the charismatic Cub fans have the grace to support a loser.

I broke into a grin when I thought of how like a church situation this was. Turnstiles and gate receipts provide accurate indices of a church's vitality. Needed is an attractive coach (pastor) to turn the struggling body of Christ into a winner. And this back-room logic has often proved to be right.

But, I believe we are missing something important, something I picked up in the new coach's remarks. Contrasting his style with the humorless, perfectionistic style of his predecessor, he said: "I believe you have got to have some fun. This game is tough enough." Who knows, he may end up with a 10-6 year!

This idea of fun, or folly, wasn't original with Coach Richard. Paul the Apostle said it came from God Himself. "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.. . . He chose the lowly things of the world and the despised things — and the things that are not — to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him" (I Cor. 1:27-29).

Years ago, I heard Dr. Paul LeRoy Holmer say that the real wise person of God is likely to be a backwoods Minnesota farmer whom few people know. God keeps pulling the rug out from under us. It is God's way of reminding us: "L'amour de Dieu est folie!"