Sunday, August 12, 2007

So, Jesus Isn't My Boyfriend?

I have a number of friends who are quite vocal about their opposition to the trend of using romantic imagery in describing our relationship with God. That is, the so-called Jesus-is-my-boyfriend phenomenon. Just the same, I kind of like it.

Does this mean that I believe that God wants to be my, girlfriend? While I do have an open slot for that position, my answer would be no. However, I do believe that the concept has a substantial biblical basis.

The Bible is rife with portrayals of God and Jesus as suitors, husbands, and even lovers. I don't believe these references mean that God wants to be a suitor, husband or lover to us. I think the goal, as in most things biblical, is for us to gain a better understanding of who God actually is, both in and of himself and in our lives.

I think those references are God's attempt to help us grasp the nature of his love for us. It's a pretty tall order. There is no direct correlate within the vocabulary of human emotion and relationship. But there are a couple of human loves the Bible uses to illustrate godly love: the love a parent has for a child, and the love a man has for a woman.

This man-woman love often starts with or leads to some sort of pursuit. God's pursuit of us led Jesus from heaven to a cross and back. Both man-woman love and God's love involve passion. Both loves involve some expectation of fidelity and exclusivity. Both loves involve a fierce and paternal protectiveness. I could go on, but you get the idea.

I can be self-centered. I sometimes have a hard time truly seeing from another person's perspective. Most of the time I just imagine what I would do, say, think, or feel if I was in their position. Since I don't get unconditional love - either fully understand it or fully receive it from others - it's good to have the analogies.

For instance, I don't know exactly how God feels when I don't spend time with him for a long time. I do know what it's like to miss a girlfriend who's away on a long trip. I don't exactly understand God's interest in the minutia of my daily life to the point that he's counted the hair on my head. I do understand living for the smile on my girlfriend's face when she eats her favorite candy bar.

When all is said and done, the love that I would have for a girlfriend or wife (if such a creature existed in my reality) pales in comparison to God's love for me. And no place that I could carve out in my heart, my schedule, my life for a girlfriend could ever be truly worthy of God.

Luckily, that doesn't change the fact or my point. Envisioning Jesus as my...significant other gets me closer to understanding his love for me than I would be otherwise.


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