Many of us might have heard the words “I have a date night with Jesus tonight.” I myself have used this phrasing to talk about setting aside some special time to pray. But, I have a bone to pick with this saying and the mindset that might accompany it..
Now, to begin, special time for special people, I think its very important. BUT, dating someone is very different from committing to someone. When you first start dating, you aren’t sure about where your relationship with the other person is going to go, what your future together is going to look like. You are a bit starry-eyed and don’t make the most prudent decisions. The first part of falling in love is all emotion and, by necessity, not a real commitment.
And this is where my dislike for ‘dates with Jesus’ comes in. God deserves more than uncertain dates and fleeting hormones. He deserves lasting love, just like you desire. Serious couples date to strengthen their relationship and to take time to appreciate each other more. They do not go on dates to replace a real relationship and the commitment to support each other in everyday struggles. And that is what I fear: that people will JUST go on dates with Jesus, that they will contain Him there in that hour or two, instead of allowing Him to enter into the whole of their lives. The God of the universe cannot be contained in an hour once or twice month, when our entire lives are about a soul constantly reaching and touching Infinite Love. He wants to pervade every part of our life. When you try and put a limit on God, you are only limiting yourself. You are limiting the heights to which you can reach, the people you can help, the journeys you could take. You are limiting the peace, love, joy, and graces that could fill your soul when you have a relationship with God. Honestly, i can’t even begin to enumerate what amazing things will happen when you really let God in.
Don’t just date Jesus. Go on dates with Him, but don’t just date. Have a full and real relationship with Him.
Remember that one song “Take me to church” by Hozier that may have confused you when it played on the pop radio station? You may have asked yourself why they were talking about going to church on a radio station that’s dedicated to butts and the pleasures of the world, rather than anything ephemeral. Unfortunately, It’s not actually about going to church. It is about a man, frustrated with the empty promises of church, who turns to his lover to fulfill him instead. He will “worship” her, in the “shrine” of the bedroom, because at least there he can find “plenty.” She is a demanding “goddess” but here at least the “starving faithful” have a chance of being filled. And this message is right up the alley of society, who attend more to the bedroom than to filling pews and thinking of the afterlife.
So, its mocking religion? Sure sounds like it. But, in my opinion, his leaving church, his throwing himself from the seemingly empty altar of God into the bed of “sweeter innocence” and “gentle sin” is not a loss of faith but it is a moment of clarity, a desire that has become too much and forces him to burst from the church where the faith that is taught is dead and will not satisfy, for it is not of God.
The true faith of God is not empty and stale, it is alive and ever changing whom it touches. It is a faith that is deeply connected to the everyday in every way. It is the faith that is interlocked with charity. It is a faith that can compete and beat with what the world has to offer. It is not for a moment “bleak” although it is a struggle. Life is a struggle, but notice that those with real faith live with one important ingredient missing in many lives and in Hozier’s song: hope. Mother Teresa did not live a useless or boring life. She changed lives because she allowed God to be fully alive in her, to shine forth like a lightbulb with no shade. She tasted a bit of heaven and was so transformed, transfixed, and transported that others were drawn to her, to know what set her apart, that made her joyful and hopeful in a world where many settle for anything that makes them briefly happy but never completely satisfies. What made this woman, who was a virgin and without a doctorate, money, anything of the world, so joyful? Faith, real faith. She listened to what God had to say and she lived it. She gave of herself, she held nothing back. This is the faith that would have kept Hozier in the pew.
Let God truly shining in the life of Christians take you back to church on day, Hozier. Christians, let’s get on living a faith that is truly alive.