Prayer for Week of February 11 — God’s Passionate Love
In honor of Valentine’s Day some thoughts of God’s love…..
“When I was a kid in high school it used to be really popular to wear little buttons on your coat that said, SMILE GOD LOVES YOU. And that would always hack me off, ‘cause I go, You know what? God loves everybody. That doesn’t make me special. It just means that God has no taste.” (Rich Mullins)
I think we misunderstand God’s love. We think of it in a very “godly” sense. We can bear to think of God loving us as a Father. We can tolerate that Jesus loved us like a brother or even like a friend. But, rarely do I meditate on the fact that God has wild, unbridled passion for me.
We are generally comfortable with metaphors of God and man—Father and child, Shepherd and sheep, Potter and clay, Master and servant, and even being friends. But, we kind of gloss over passages where we have ravished the heart of God with one look of our eye. (Song of Solomon 4:9)
The Bible makes a rather scandalous comparison more than once (Isaiah 54 and the book of Hosea come to mind) of God being a husband and lover of His people. We don’t think of God in those terms very often. But, in making the metaphor that God did in Hosea, Isaiah, and Song of Solomon, He forever likened His love to sexual arousal.
Gomer was no model bride and neither was Israel. Both played the harlot, being unfaithful and fooling around with others (Gomer with other men, Israel with false gods). And yet both Gomer and Israel had a rather indecent power over her husband.
“He could not have enough of her and His passion could not be dampened by her many betrayals.” (Brennan Manning)
Bede Griffiths wrote: “The love of Jesus Christ is not a mild benevolence: it is a consuming fire.”
I know some Christians will see this as totally blasphemous. It’s not “holy” to talk about sex and God in the same sentence, let alone make a direct comparison between the sentiments! But why? The prophet Hosea showed us that God doesn’t just care about His people (like I care about the neighbors, the homeless man on the corner, my mother, my friends, or my favorite show on television), but that God is actually aroused by His people.
I learned about an interesting ritual in Catholic liturgy. It was borrowed and assimilated by fourth century Christians—a Spring fertility symbol. It has been part of Easter liturgy ever since. “At the baptismal rite of the Easter vigil, a lighted candle is inserted into a case of holy water to symbolize that when Jesus Christ rose from the dead He consummated His union with His bride the Church.” Amazing, isn’t it, that fourth century Christians knowingly used a symbol of intercourse in their Easter services?! What were they thinking? Perhaps they were thinking that God loved His people enough to form a permanent bond and covenant with them that cannot be revoked. Generations and generations have witnessed this ritual and have not understood it.
I love all the metaphors of God’s relationship with His people. Yet, it’s interesting to note that the final metaphor, which probably isn’t really a metaphor, is that of a wedding feast! The culmination of our relationship with Jesus will be Jesus as a Husband and His people as the Bride on the happiest day of a passionate relationship—the day they are truly one!
I don’t know that I’ve communicated this properly or that it makes sense to anyone but me. But, in the words of Augustine, “Give me someone who loves, and he will understand what I am trying to say. Give me someone whose heart yearns, who feels the nostalgia of loneliness in this exile, who is athirst and sighs for a fatherland eternal, give me such a one and he will understand what I am trying to say. But if I must explain myself to ice-cold indifference, he will not understand.”
Jesus! Let us live in your passionate love. Stir our hearts to yearn after You the way you yearn for us. May we not seek only to be loved, but to love. And to love passionately. Amen