(Adapted from Christianity Today, December 2006, from an article written by Agnieszka Tennant, “Dating Jesus.”)
We want to be so relational in this society void of meaning and meaningful relationships. It’s showing up in the church. There are books that encourage a date night with Jesus. Can I ask a few obvious questions?
Some books encourage you to “talk to God as if he is actually sitting at the table with me, because I know that he is.” Actually, he’s not. Scripturally, He is inside you. You are in Christ. Why would you want an out of body experience when your body is already the temple of the Holy Spirit?
A church in Kansas City encouraged people to engage in the “Bridal Paradigm,” a quasi-romantic relationship with Christ. Isn’t that what all those folks in The Da Vinci Code and other books are saying, that Jesus had lovers? I thought He was King of kings and Lord of lords. We aren’t going to romance God in heaven; we’re going to worship Him. We won’t nuzzle up to his side, we’ll fall on our faces.
Some of our songs sound like sensual tunes sung by some pop diva. Jessica Simpson supposedly wanted to be a Christian artist. Some Christian artists seem to want to be Jessica Simpson. Tennant calls this music “eros-laced sentiments directed at Jesus.”
We don’t need anymore soulish saints. Soulish can be emotional. God does His deepest work in renewing our minds. It’s a spiritual warfare we are in, not a soulish one. Jesus loves me this I know, but I also know Jesus hates sin and had to die for sin. For every time we think He is the lover of our soul, we need to think three times about “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.”
I like what Tennant says when she writes, “I have little patience for taking biblical metaphors too far and giving one’s relationship with God an air of irreverent chumminess. Somehow, the scenario in which ‘his princess’ shaves her legs for a date with Jesus seems to leave little room for fear of God.”
God does reveal to us that He wants a love relationship with us, but let’s not take it too far. We can’t remove the holiness of God. There can be love, but there must be reverence. He is Holy Other. We are sons, but we can’t just plop ourselves down in the throne room and put our feet on the Mercy Seat.
One last word from Tennant, “The Bible is replete with breathtaking metaphors that hint at God’s love for us. Thank God, we don’t always take them to illogical ends: I’ve never heard a preacher take the Good Shepherd image to mean that God raises his children to ultimately kill and eat them.”
There’s some food for thought.
Michael served as the President of the Large Church Roundtable, the Southern Baptist Convention as an IMB Trustee, President of the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Preaching Conference, Vice President of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and President of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference. He has spoken at conferences, colleges, seminaries, rallies, camps, NBA and college chapel services, well as The Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove. Michael is the recipient of The Martin Luther King Award, The MLK Unity Award, and a Georgia Senate Resolution in recognition of his work in the community and in racial reconciliation.
Michael and his wife, Terri, have two grown daughters, Erin and Hayley.