These are the concepts and the realities that make it all worthwhile. Jesus didn't tell us to be safe. He risked in ways that were (I don't want to say "irrational," because that would indicate that Jesus didn't know what was best, so I'll use a word that Chad used at Ecclesia this past Sunday...) super-rational--beyond the reason of this world.
So, why does the church, why does Christian culture, try so hard to make everything make sense? This new life is not rational. This following Jesus stuff is not rational. It is super-rational. I know a love from God that is so beyond what I know, that my super-rational response is not to keep it for myself, but to give it back to people. I have to give love, which also means I have to give it to people that it might not "make sense" for me to love.
I like how John Eldredge writes about God's pursuit of His people as a grand romance. It is epic and enduring, heartfelt and intimate. It resonates in the core of our beings, both for people who know what it is to be in love and for those who long for that experience.
To express love to someone in a romantic context, it takes great risk.
What if I can't love him back with the same passion he's revealing for me?
What if I disappoint him?
What if I become vulnerable with him and he rejects me because of the very things I'm already insecure about?
Am I really worth his pursuit?
What if I can't back up the words I speak?
It's scary to say "I love you," even when you know you feel it stirring inside of you. It's scary because it means so much and it has the potential to change everything.
Now think about entering into a relationship with Jesus. Think about stating your love for Him. Don't the same kinds of questions pop into your head? The same doubts and fears likely surface.
What if I can't love Him back with the same passion He's revealing for me?
What if I disappoint Him?
What if I become vulnerable with Him and he rejects me because of the very things I'm already insecure about?
Am I really worth His pursuit?
What if I can't back up the words I speak?
It's scary stuff--weighty, life altering, and very real.
With romantic love, we have to state our love in order to experience its fullness.
The love of Christ is the same. Claiming it enables us to receive it.
I had never been in love. I didn't know what it was supposed to feel like. I didn't know how to act or what to do in order to be "someone in love." Because I didn't understand it, I was hesitant to express it once I was faced with it. I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I was scared. Then I realized that in order to know what it's like to be "someone in love," I had to become someone in love. I had to let myself fall. I had to claim it. I had to surrender to what I couldn't understand because the only way to know it would be to experience it. I had to let myself love back.
The same is true of a love relationship with Jesus. You have to let yourself fall. You have to claim it. you have to let yourself love back. So many people are hesitant to surrender to Him because they don't understand it and they don't know what it will bring into their lives. Or, they think, if that love is already present without them doing anything to earn it, what is the point of claiming it? If they know God loves them, and they know they love God, why bother expressing what already exists?
So, I ask this. If I know my boyfriend loves me, and I have feelings of love for him in return, do I have to say it? If I choose not to express my love (since we both know I feel it, so why bother saying it?), how does that affect the way I'll receive his love? Will I be fully able to experience the abundant and overflowing love he wants to show me? Or, will I be closed off and guarded, unable to receive the care he desires to show for me?
Love takes risk. It requires us to surrender to something we don't understand. It demands that we make a claim, not knowing what changes it will bring to our lives. It's scary. It's thrilling. It's worth it. And, as scary as it feels to take that risk, actually doing so brings about the most indescribeable peace...a safety and security that could never have been known unless the risk was taken.
It might not "make sense" to some people that I am in love with someone who is still sorting out what it means to make that claim of his and God's mutual love for one another. It was scary for me to put into words what I knew I felt for him because I wondered how it would all play out... But, I felt compelled to. I had to take the risk. I'm glad I did, because the good things this love is bringing to my life are numerous.
One of the most beautiful things it has brought is a better understanding of the love and tenderness that exists between me and my Creator. Now I am able to understand love in the passionate, sacrificial, enduring way that I think it is meant to be known. Love has always been, and still is, a choice, a commitment. However, I can also appreciate how it is something that takes hold of us and infuses us without explanation. It is super-rational. I believe that both models of love are essential to fully comprehend the love of God--it captures us, and we choose to live it out daily.
I am a woman who loves Jesus passionately.
So, how is it that I am dating someone who might not make that exact same statement yet?
Is the choice to express my love for him something that makes my belief in Christ less true?
Or, is that choice to love a way for me to personally demonstrate the kind of risk, the surrender to the unknown, that I am suggesting he also needs to take toward Christ?
How could I expect him to take that leap toward faith if I myself were unwilling to make a similar jump, especially since I have in me the power of Christ that strengthens me to face things that are scary?
My love for him is a reflection of the unconditional, indescriminant love that Jesus offers us. His love for me is a reflection of the passionate pursuit of God for the one he loves. Just because our story might not fit Christian culture's box of what is "acceptable" and "logical," I'm not too concerned. I think our relationship portrays deeper, more beautifully complex illustrations of God's story. It's a bit super-rational, which may be why it seems to fit so well.