How do you love a guy you don’t really know?
I’ve read the Bible, I’ve studied theology, I’ve facilitated Bible studies, I’ve listened to sermons, and I’ve read books. Yet do all of those amount to really “knowing” Jesus?
More than that, do they amount to loving him?
The intangibility of the Christian faith is something I have often struggled with. I want to see my prayers, I want to hug a tangible person-Jesus, I want to hear his replies to me.
But that’s just now how this Christianity thing works.
So I find myself eating instead of praying, writing down my prayers in hopes that those ones will maybe stick, eating cake while reading the Bible in an attempt to remember its goodness–because all of those have a physicality, an immediacy about them.
“It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship,” is a phrase that’s sometimes used to describe Christianity. Except all of my other relationships are with people I at least sometimes see in real life, or at the very least communicate with here and there.
Not that love is supposed to be immediate, or can be seen with the human eye. But the reality is, I say I love Jesus, but I don’t really know what that means. It sounds good. It’s what good little Christians are supposed to say.
Yet how do you love someone you don’t sit down across the table from and eat dinner with, or text to see if he wants to hang out on Friday night? Jesus loves me, but do I really and truly love him?
In my relationships with friends and family, I (somewhat, and very imperfectly) know how to love them. Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages outlines 5 different ways people give and receive love–words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch–which I’ve found to be helpful when I think about how to care about my friends and family.
Jesus does not have a love language we can discern, though. Or maybe he has all of them, since he is love. Whichever it is, all of the ways of expressing love have a limit when it comes to how they apply to my relationship with Jesus. I can tell him he’s great, I can do things that please him, I can give him gifts (sort of?), I can spend time with him (again, sort of, but since we can’t hang out on a Friday night, this is a tricky one for me to figure out), and…well, if someone figures out how to give Jesus hugs, please let me know.
So what does a love with an invisible person, a deity, look like? In concrete, tangible ways?
What do you think? (Really, I want to know.)
Til next time…