Like that title?I thought it might pique your interest.I want to take a few moments and consider how growing in your relationship with Jesus can make you a better lover.
I guess maybe I should give you some background.A number of years ago I taught a series called “Redefining Relationships“ to a college group.As usual, we talked about everything from friendships to sexuality.Since this church was made up primarily of singles, this subject hit home with many of the group members.Those that weren’t facing the battles of purity were still surrounded by sexuality from the media and pop culture at every turn.
Anyway, in this series, I made a passing reference to the fact that becoming more intimate with Christ can make you a better lover.I got quite a bit of response from that statement, so I decided to develop the thought further.I thought this would also be a good subject for married couples.A healthy marriage is like a healthy garden… it requires a lot of effort to weed, water, feed and nurture, but the results are well worth it.
So, I want you to drop your religious inhibitions, take off your holier-than-thou glasses and track with me as we delve into the subject of becoming a better lover.Maybe it would be best if we started with a verse or two from the Bible, so you won’t think I’ve gone off the deep end.
For our high priest is able to understand our weaknesses. When he lived on earth, he was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin.Let us, then, feel free to come before God’s throne. Here there is grace. And we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it.- Hebrews 4:15-16 TLB
One of the things God has been teaching me lately is about humanity.Some people from the faith tradition in which I was raised taught that becoming more like Christ made you either less human or super-human.For instance… many people concentrated on the statement “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).They taught that in order to please God better, you had to ignore your feelings, pretending they didn’t even exist.While I do think there absolutely is a truth there, the impression I got was that serving Christ Jesus and becoming more like Him made you oblivious to the world around you.To do any less wasn’t being very spiritual or pleasing to God.
I find fault with that theology in the story of Abraham.The Bible says that Abraham “faced the facts”, not “ignored” them (Romans 4:18-21) and was still able to believe.No, being a Christ-follower doesn’t make you a robot.
The above passage states that Jesus connected with humanity at the deepest level.He got elbow deep in humanity, so to speak.He could’ve come as a king, a statesman or at least a nobleman, but instead He chose to come as a baby, born into poverty.After returning from being an intercontinental political refugee, He grew up in a blue-collar family.He chose to meet the people where they lived, not teach in the “seminaries” or the king’s palace.He was the champion of the marginalized, the outcast and the “sinner”.
In studying the life of Christ, I see that He was uniquely human.He experienced humanity on a different level than any of us.He was the model of God’s original intention for His highest creation: mankind.In that context, I believe I can safely say that, contrary to popular religious opinion, becoming like Jesus will make you more human.Because of that, I believe that falling in love with Him can make you a better lover as well.
* Becoming like Jesus means developing a respect for others – As I already mentioned, Jesus considered all people worthy of respect, regardless of their socio-economic background.One of the biggest relational problems I hear about in pastoral counseling is related to respect.“He doesn’t treat me properly.”“Well, she doesn’t respect my decisions.”Sound familiar?Statements like these are based in a self-centered worldview.Unlike us, Jesus was other-centered.
He gave dignity to the impoverished, the sick, the mentally/emotionally disturbed and the social outcasts (untouchables) by His presence, His attitude and His words.His hands and His words brought healing and meaning into their lives.The religious leaders of His day were appalled that He would stoop to the level of eating with tax collectors (Mafioso) and other “sinners” (Matthew 9:9-12).I think it is amazing that even prostitutes felt at ease in His presence.It was the religious leaders that bore the brunt of His rebukes (for the pride-filled, judgmental attitude of their hearts).
* Becoming like Jesus involves sympathizing with people – He didn’t ignore people with problems.When Robin & I were visiting my brother in Philadelphia, he laid out the ground rules.Among them was, “Never make eye contact with a beggar.”He was just trying to protect us, but I think you get the point.We would rather walk on the other side of the street than have to tell someone we can’t (or won’t) help them.
Jesus, on the other hand, was moved with compassion at the sight of the crowds (Matthew 9:36, Matthew 14:14, Matthew 15:32).In the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead (John 11:1-45), Jesus’ humanity is displayed very clearly (verses 33, 35 & 38).Some scholars say that He was “overcome with emotion”.Either way, we see in Jesus a man who wasn’t afraid of displaying His human side.He connected with Lazarus’ family and the mourners in their grief.His compassion in all of these instances created the perfect atmosphere for God’s miracle-working power to be displayed.He truly “walked a mile in our shoes.”
* Becoming like Jesus causes us to be open and vulnerable – On His last night with His disciples before His torture and execution, He shared an intimate dinner with them (The Last Supper).He made a very vulnerable statement to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Mark 14:34).Doesn’t sound like much of a Savior, now does it?He was inviting His closest companions into His private agony.
We, on the other hand, close ourselves off from people, isolating and insulating ourselves from possible pain and disappointment.We’ve learned that letting someone too close is a very risky and scary thing.After all, we’d probably just get hurt again, and we will do anything to avoid pain.Part of learning to be vulnerable is inviting others into the ugly, painful, broken parts of our lives, not just the facade we want everyone to see.
* Developing intimacy with God helps us to develop intimacy with those around us – The process is the same.It starts with acquaintance.It is developed through time, conversation and shared experience.And it requires all the other characteristics we’ve just discussed (respect, sympathy/empathy and vulnerability).As we learn to trust Him, we develop the ability to trust others. There are many other things we could discuss along these lines, but then this might become a book (or two). Suffice it to say that becoming more like Jesus makes us better lovers, friends, coworkers, students, parents, and children… more human! My desire is to live my life in such a way that God’s original plan for my life shines through. I hope it is your desire as well. The best way to further your relationship with God is to spend time daily with Him in Bible reading and prayer, regular church attendance, and in delving deep into community with a group of believers that meets regularly for Bible study and accountability. This is also a great way to investigate what genuine Christianity is all about.