In light of Valentine’s Day approaching, I thought it would be good to intentionally talk a bit about dating and romance. I have a lot to say about this (especially because today’s romantic scene is quite complicated), but I think I’ll only talk about one aspect of the subject right now…
I’d be willing to bet that dating’s major selling point is not the glitz and glamour of “serving another person.” In fact, I would be really surprised if that were one of the top ten reasons for anyone to enter into a dating relationship. One doesn’t intrinsically think, “It would be really great to date that person so I could serve them sacrificially.” We simply aren’t wired that way because the undercurrent in every human heart is selfishness. Our sinful nature makes it nearly impossible to push “service” to the front of the line when it comes to main motivations for dating.
We view dating through the lens of “what can this relationship do for me?” Of course, we don’t actually ask ourselves that question when we’re single, but the truth is it’s probably the main reason any and everyone jumps into the dating pool head-first.
Think about it. When you look back on your motivations for getting into a relationship in the past, what were they? If you’re having trouble, let me help you along with a few of mine from the past…
Without the presence of other people in our lives who love Jesus and walk with him, we become islands who try to spiritually self-feed and it never works. Despite our delusional belief that we are fine on our own and can spiritually mature via self-appointed authoritative measures (like watching sermons online or listening to podcasts), we need other flesh-and-blood people in our lives who are willing to get involved with our messiness and point us toward Scripture.
Photo: Brooke Cagle, Unsplash
For someone who has been in full-time college ministry for over twenty years, I know all too well what self-appointed authority leads to: disobedience.
I have seen numerous young men and women who have walked away from Jesus for a variety of reasons, but nearly all of them have one thing in common—they isolated themselves from the body of Christ.
Mike was a student leader in the campus ministry at James Madison University in Virginia where I was on staff with a campus ministry. He shared his faith, read his Bible, lived with a house full of other godly men, and even interned with our ministry for several years after he graduated.
The future of a Christian is secure in life because of the death and resurrection of God’s Son. He died so that we don’t have to.
Even though every person eventually dies, death is not at all natural. Every human being will one day pass away, but death itself was not a part of God’s original plan. Death entered the world as a consequence of sin.
Photo: Unsplash, Umit Yildirim
There is a reason we instinctively abhor death and the fact that it eventually swallows everyone we know and love. We as human beings are made in the image of God, and God is the Author of life. It is written into our hearts that life is precious, valuable, and worth preserving. This is why death is so vile to us. It is why we cry when we hear the news about someone passing away. We are made to enjoy and radiate life, not death.
Is there something in your outward appearance that you don’t like? Is there anything about your body that you would change if you were able? I would.
Photo: Tiago Bandeira, Unsplash
I’m short, and I’ve always been that way. I was constantly made fun of as a kid, and now as a five-foot-six-inch man today, I’m often viewed as “less than” or “unable” when it comes to typical male-dominated things like carrying heavy furniture or a casual game of tackle football. It’s always been a great source of pain for me, but what about you?
When we type with our thumbs, they are an extension of our mouths, and as Scripture says, our mouths are an extension of our hearts. (Matt. 12:34)
Photo: Warren Wong, Unsplash
Consequently, your thumbs represent who you are. So by observing what you post online and what you text to others, who would people say you are? Are you wise or are you what the Bible calls “a fool”? (Prov. 29:11)
Regardless of how you may answer, let me offer six ways to help you from being or becoming a digital fool…
God’s boundary lines are an authoritative gift of his grace. In fact, the giving of the Law itself to the Israelites in the book of Exodus is a loving act of God’s favor extended to his people.
Photo: Sylwia Bartyzel, Unsplash
Now, authoritative law-giving and grace aren’t often closely associated with one another in the minds of many, because Mount Sinai generally correlates in our thoughts with thunder, lightning, thick clouds, fire, trembling, and rules. We see the giving of the Law as pretty scary, but all of the jarring noise and breathtaking visuals were more likely akin to a school teacher in front of an unruly room of students, calling for their attention and shouting, “Class! Class! Listen up! I’m going to speak now about something that’s extremely important.”
If there’s anything the term “social distancing” has taught us, it’s that most people don’t like social distancing. Humans are hardwired to live in deep need of community, despite what all the introvert memes might joke about.
Photo: Unsplash, Helena Lopes
The Christian life is always meant to be experienced in the context of community and association with fellow believers. There is a great deal of relational health in godly community, and I’ve seen its benefits up close. People grow when they’re rubbing shoulders with like-minded followers of Christ who share their resources, keep one another accountable for godly living, put their phones down, and talk with each other.
Going without physical food will yield pretty terrible results in your life, including malnourishment, extreme fatigue, organ failure, and eventually death. We as living human beings need food in order to function, let alone thrive.
Photo: Unsplash, Hayden Scott
Similarly, as Christians, we need the spiritual food of God’s Word to function and thrive. Without regular intake of reading and absorbing the Scriptures, we will become spiritually malnourished and thus susceptible to all kinds of attacks and injuries to take us out of the race in pursuit of God.
I’m reminded here of the section in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair when the evil Witch-Queen of Underland is attempting to bewitch the story’s four heroes, Jill, Eustace, Prince Rilian, and Puddleglum. She has them cornered in a room and Prince Rilian is demanding they be set free from Underland and return to Narnia.
Before you vote on Tuesday, listen to this important conversation I had with Keith Simon and Patrick Miller—the guys from Truth Over Tribe.
Where do you pledge your allegiance? Is it to a specific political party or is it to Jesus? These kinds of conversations are INCREDIBLY important as we examine what it means to be loyal to Jesus over all else. I loved talking with Patrick and Keith, and I think you’ll really benefit from listening to this episode of Real Life Loading… wherever you get your podcasts.
I’m thrilled to say that the very first episode of Real Life Loading… is now available wherever you get your podcasts. And to kick it off with the best of the best of guests, we’ve got the one and only Heather Holleman helping us wade through Taylor Swift opinions, contentment in Christ, TikTok jealousy, and how to view yourself as a sent believer in Christ (amongst other important topics).
I loved my conversation with Heather, and I think you will too. Search for Real Life Loading… on any podcast platform and you’ll find us. New episodes every Friday!