Continuing from my last post…
This past Sunday, the pastor at the church I attended was preaching on the passage from Song of Solomon 2:8-13 which is a song between two lovers re-connecting with one another. The words and images are beautiful and evocative. But they are far more than words between two people. Many have also taken them to be words that describe God’s pursuing love for humanity – for me, for you, for us, for all. Pastor Nicholas shared something of the title of the book that I hadn’t heard before. The traditional title of the book isn’t “Song of Solomon” but is “Song of Songs” as if it is saying that it is THE SONG of all songs. No song greater than this.
As he continued reflecting on this rhapsodic love song from Scripture, he shared of one of my favorite Christian authors – Brennan Manning. I first read Manning’s work back in college when I read his Ragamuffin Gospel and I continued to come across him through his writings and also through the amazing music of the late Rich Mullins. About 6 or 7 years ago, I came across a Manning book that I hadn’t read before, The Furious Longing of God, My initial reading of the title when I bought it was wrong. I thought it was entitled, The Furious Longing FOR God, not OF God. I was going into it expecting it was going to be a book about us seeking to long for God and how to “Do” that more and more. But that’s not the book and honestly, that wasn’t Brennan Manning. In fact, he writes:
“How is it then that we’ve come to imagine that Christianity consists primarily in what we do for God? How has this come to be the good news of Jesus?”
And that’s not the root of the Christian life. It is the fact that God is the lover who is calling after us and will never give up. God is the one who, no matter what we have done or will ever do, will not give up on us. God is the one who, even in the times of deepest darkness, continues to remind us that we are not alone. It may not make the problem or the struggle go away, but it is the light that can come and shine in the darkness.
And it comes from this unbelievable, unexplainable, immeasurable, indescribable love of God. Manning, in his book describes this love in this way.
“If you took the love of all the best mothers and fathers who have lived in the course of human history, all their goodness, kindness, patience, fidelity, wisdom, tenderness, strength, and love and united all those qualities in a single person, that person’s love would only be a faint shadow of the furious love and mercy in the heart of God the Father addressed to you and me at this moment.”
This is the love that can transform us and transform the world. Not the love that we create or somehow “deepen” but instead the love that we accept and we stop running and allow God to meet us in this song of love and be embraced and held and known fully.
So, it is the same picture as the last post, but notice how the light cloud seems to be wrapped around the other. It isn’t overpowering it but simply embracing it, surrounding it, holding it you might say.
Once more…Brennan Manning…
“The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus is meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand-new creations. Not to make people with better morals, but to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent Word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love. This, my friends, is what it really means to be a Christian. Our religion never begins with what we do for God. It always starts with what God has done for us, the great and wondrous things that God dreamed of and achieved for us in Christ Jesus.”