Saturday, February 12, 2011

Happily Ever After

Most of us here in America grew up with fairy tales that started with “Once upon a time” and end with “and they lived happily ever after!” As kids we were sold on idolizing this concept of finding the perfect person, falling in love with them, they would complete our lives and we would be happy forever.

Hollywood has made a fortune developing this model. This time of year there are always lots of new movies that portray life as a fairy tail. You know girl meets guy who is discovered to be the perfect match and after a tortuous journey end up with each other and they live … (You know the rest) BTW You can substitute the girl with a guy who meets a girl, etc. And while it makes for great entertainment (especially for many gals) in the end it’s still just a fairy tale. The problem is that we have begun to believe the dream is reality.

Most couples who have been together for any length of time know that reality rarely lives up to the fantasy. In fact many people go through life constantly being disappointed with the relationships that they develop. None of these relationships live up to the Hollywood myth. In fact the last step in the “ever after” scenario is that if first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

If reality doesn’t live up to the hype, what should relationship reality really look like? Well God’s plan for relationships is exactly the same as fantasy only different! God’s plan begins with becoming the person God wants you to be. Too often we want the other person to complete us when in reality it’s God who changes us into the person that we should be. We begin this process by walking in His love. This love is unselfish and seeks to put others first, starting with God.

The next step is to fix all of our hope on God. Too often we expect someone to fix all of our problems when in reality no one other then God and ever fix us. God wants us to allow Him to change us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. The final step in this relationship prescription is that if and when failure occurs, repeat the process again!

So for those of you who are single and looking for a relationship – please realize that God loves you and wants to be the one that loves you and the one who can be everything you will ever need. And for those of you who are in a relationship, only God will never fail you. No one else is perfect. He is the only one who will truly complete you. Only He can fill the vacuum in your soul.

So this Valentine’s Day remember that the only way you can live happily ever after is to live it God’s way!


Pastor Val


Dance as Conversation said...

You are right to offer a critique of Hollywood's rendition of love, especially the idea that one individual can complete another, making them forever happy.

Americans have as you say, "begun to believe this dream is reality." I would go as far as saying large portions of the American church have adopted this as a Christian doctrine: if you are a good Christian, live a holy life and pray hard God will give you the perfect person who will make you eternally happy. Grafting Hollywood onto Christian theology proves even more problematic, as in the former there is at least a degree of separation between the myth and Christian reality. Furthermore, I love your attestation that this is a perpetual cycle. You're right, and I think that just enflames the problem.

My question is this: what is Christian reality as it pertains to love? You move straight to the "solution" without articulating the Christian truth. God is obviously integral to relationships between all Christians, dating or not, but what does it mean to love another?

I am interested in why you chose to focus on the relationship of the individual to God in the latter part of your post instead of the interplay between God, the individual and the other in a post about love. It seems this could move toward a "having Jesus as my boyfriend mentality" or a more individualized focus in relationships, which are explicitly interpersonal.

I know this is an extensive response to what is a blog post and not a paper, for that I apologize. I love your ideas! I just desire further clarification/articulation as to your thoughts for further opportunities to learn :)


Ancient Future Mariner said...

C.J. Thanks for your thoughts and questions. Your question as to “what is Christianity as it pertains to love?” is the making of an entire blog if not more accurately a paper. For our purposes here, can we agree that in the Greek (the original language of the NT) there actually three Greek words translated in the English word love? Additionally there is at least one more word or perhaps two Greek words not used in Scripture that could also be translated as love. To get a good definition of the love most often thought of as the love that God the Father and Christ demonstrated to us is the Greek word agape. We usually define this as a self-sacrificing kind of love. Which is what Christ did when he chose to come to earth for the express purpose to live a sinless life, die a sinless death and rise to a new life all for the purpose of redeeming us and providing a way for us (and all of creation) to be recreated and to once again have a relationship with a holy God.

Christ loved us while we were not only unlovely but also enemies of his and the Father.
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:6-8 (NIV)
We come to love God because he loved us first
19 We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19 (NIV)
Finally we are commanded to love others because of our love for God as seen in the first and second great commandments

37 Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV)
The expression the Law and the Prophets was Jewish code speak for the entire Bible as they knew it; commonly now referred to as the Old Testament. So we have a command to love others with the same love as we love ourselves. This same thought is carried over in Paul’s writings when he tells us to love our wives as Christ loved the church – Sacrificially giving his life for it.

28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church--
30 for we are members of his body.
Ephesians 5:28-30 (NIV)
In 1 John we are told that we demonstrate (or prove) our love for God by loving others.

20 If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.
21 And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
1 John 4:20-21 (NIV)
Now truth must also be tempered with love and love must be strengthened with truth. Only in this way can we both be truthful without being brutally honest and we can be loving without ignoring the truth of the situation.

15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
Ephesians 4:15 (NIV)
We must recognize that God loves us and therefore we find our worth in him and not another. That is why I chose to end the blog dealing with our relationship between God and me vs. God, me & thee. Too often we expect that a relationship between two people will solve all of our problems. We look to another flawed to fix our brokenness which is simply impossible. The only one who can fix us is God. The only one who will never fail us is God. And the only one who is capable of meeting all of our needs is God.

I hope this will help to clarify my thinking and add some additional food for thought. If you have further questions or comments I would be happy to dialogue with you.

Pastor Val