So somebody's Facebook "religion" profile says this: "Falling more and more in love with Jesus."
A friend calls me, and grills me about what I think.
"Does this kinda skeeve you out? Is it kinda immature, really? Is it kinda inappropriate...?"
Answer, for my part: Nope.
I mean, yes, on the skeeves-me-out thing -- a little, yes, I'm a guy -- but honestly, I get why someone would say this. I don't think it's too simple. I don't think it's immature. I don't think it's one of those I-could-be-singing-about-Jesus-or-my-girlfriend lyrics. I think it makes sense.
"But doesn't it imply kind of a romantic element to the relationship? Isn't that inappropriate?"
Well, I'm not the one who chose the "bride of Christ" metaphor. The Great Wedding Feast is going to happen, and you're not invited just to attend. You're invited to be standing up, front and center. And, following the metaphor: You're the one getting a ring. I didn't make that up, and the Facebook "falling in love" person didn't, either. And I didn't write the Song of Songs, or Hosea, who got to understand how God feels as a jilted lover.
"Falling in love" doesn't seem more inappropriate than, "Do you take this man...?"
"But there's a lot more to Christianity than 'falling in love' with Jesus."
I used to agree with that. Now? Not so much.
Jesus was the one who boiled it all down, and, you can bet, the religious folk didn't like it one bit, when he said that all the rules could be summed up with one, and another like it. "LOVE the Lord your God..."
Love God. With all your heart, soul, mind, strength... love. Jesus said that. Too simple? Yeah, it still bothers religious people. We desperately want to make this a pure intellectual exercise, checking off beliefs and arguing doctrine. We want our religious educations to mean something, all those hours at seminary, or in Sunday School, or listening to sermon after sermon, or reading Christian books. And then someone comes along and "sums it all up" with love?
Some didn't like that, and some don't like that. And then he went and picked a bunch of uneducated types to be his disciples. Rabbis don't do that. It's a point no one could miss, and the religious didn't like it.
"But it makes things too simple. It sounds like something a young Christian, who doesn't know much, would say."
Maybe. But you know what? It also sounds like something a very old Christian would say.
Paul Ricoeur wrote that there's a "second naivete at the far side of complexity." That's kind of a mind-bender, but think about it: We start with "Jesus loves me, this I know," and then we complexify everything, and debate pre-destination and women's roles in the church or whatever, but when we're sitting on the front porch, in our twilight, watching our great-grandchildren, we're not into debating anymore. It's back to "Jesus loves me, this I know."
True maturity might just mean the ability to distill things to their essence. To simplify. To know what really matters. To weed out the frivolous, and, just maybe, expand our idea of what "frivolous" really means.
"But isn't it going too far to say it comes down to just 'loving' God? Just 'loving' Jesus? What about all the stuff we're supposed to do to prove our love?"
Jesus said there would be impressive-sounding religious people who will say to him, in the end, "Lord, didn't we do all this awesome religious stuff for you?" (my paraphrase) and he's going to say, "I didn't know you."
He wants our hearts. We are to love him.
"But that sounds almost childlike, like just anyone could do that, and -- "