Stop flirting with Jesus

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.

Sticks and stones may just break my soul…..

This log in my eye stings something fierce most days.

Remember that quote in the Bible in Luke 6:42: “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

My brother, my sister, have a stick in their peepers while I have a gigantic plank in my cornea. Such a discrepancy in size should raise a question (besides where the closest eye doctor is): if my flaw “my plank” is so much bigger than my neighbor’s flaw, then why do I pick on their faults faster than I would ever dream of correcting my own?

I think human nature is wired like this. We feel the weight of our sins, but we have grown accustomed to the weight. We can’t seem to shake it, so we hide it behind a facade. The world doesn’t need to know how broken we truly are, how every day we struggle with a vice, with pain, with suffering. And when others show a chink in their armor, when perhaps they can’t hold in their temper, when they are hurt and struggling, when they themselves are not aware of the weight of their flaws, we jump at the chance to deflect the spotlight from our own struggle. And often, those flaws that we complain most about in other people are perhaps our greatest weaknesses.  For instance, I have a hard time working with, being friendly, generally being around hypocrites. I hate being lied to and generally tend to trust people right away, so a hypocrisy is a betrayal of trust. And yet, I am one of the biggest hypocrites that I know. I talk about including people and being kind, and yet I daily struggle to go out of my way to keep a door open for someone. Perhaps this isn’t a typical type of hypocrisy, but it is still living a lie. I am saying one thing and doing another. And when I see others who say one thing and live their lives in a completely different manner, it drives me nuts,  for when I see them, I am reminded of how unhappy I am with how I live my life, how much it weighs on my soul to life this way.

So, the next time I (or you) get annoyed at someone for their sin, maybe instead of concentrating on their struggle, maybe try and take a look at what you are carrying on your back. Maybe you can try and shake it off your back, and you can stop staring at the dirt and see the sky instead.

A call from the pop radio station

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.