Share Button

One of my favourite Brennan Manning quotes spent its first ten years in my life as a DC Talk song quote. It goes like this:

“The greatest single advert for atheism in the world today is Christians. They acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelieving.”

An area I have significantly struggled with in the past has been the mismatch of intimacy and commitment. In his (often hated by the left, loved by the right) book ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye’, Joshua Harris says this:

“And I think that’s the story of our generation’s pursuit of fulfilment in relationships…. we wished for the pleasure of love with none of the work, none of the vows, none of the sacrifice…. but the results aren’t what we hoped for. And we’re left feeling emptier than before. The intimacy is superficial. The sex leaves us dissatisfied and hungry for something real, something true. Where is true joy? It’s found in God’s brand of love – love founded on faithfulness, rooted in commitment.”

I couldn’t agree more. Though for me, it has always been less about physical intimacy and more about emotional intimacy. I’ve been all too eager to over-commit. For once, I think I actually got the balance a bit more right and it has meant that I have come away from this situation at least a little less hurt than I otherwise would have been. But in any situation where the level of intimacy – physical, emotional, or time – doesn’t match the level of commitment (friendship, dating, relationship, engagement, marriage) – there’s almost always a guarantee of hurt at some point. I have in my life caused a lot of that and have at times been on the receiving end of it too.

Thinking about this got me thinking about how God feels about our commitment. We are all too eager to say things in church liturgy and in sung worship that doesn’t then ring true in our lives. We’re happy to commit to something verbally in a church service, but when it comes to allowing it to really make a difference, we simply don’t. I don’t know if that’s because we’re not really understanding the words we are saying, or because we don’t want to, or because we can’t, or some other reason.

You know the sort of thing I mean.

“break my heart for what breaks yours, everything I am for your Kingdom’s cause”
“Jesus you’re all I need”
“for our inheritance give us the lost”
“Be my everything”

Yet we rarely end up living these things out. How does God feel about that? How would you feel if you were God?

One of my favourite songs is called ‘Take My Life’ by Third Day and I think it hits the nail on the head of how I feel at the moment – amidst the situational depression I find myself in, amidst the anger I have towards God balanced with the knowledge that my anger doesn’t even make sense:

How many times have I turned away
The number is the same as the sand on the shore
But every time You’ve taken me back
And now I pray You do it once more.

Please take from me my life
When I don’t have the strength
to give it away to You Jesus
How many times have I turned away
The number is the same as the stars in the sky
But every time You’ve taken me back
And now I pray You do it tonight.

I’m not a big Joshua Harris fan. I happen to think his book focusses far too much on guilt tripping the reader into a new way of life that better fits his conservative model of dating. But on this particular subject, I think he has it spot on. And I think we ought remember that every relationship we have in our lives in some way reflects a relationship with the divine.

It’s okay to be honest. Sometimes we can’t give our lives over to God. Sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes we’re stuck, and we struggle. And it’s okay if the world can see that too. An unbelieving world will find honesty, integrity and faith much, much more believable.

Share Button