As I began reading The Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldridge tonight, I found myself nodding with nearly every sentence, agreeing with their idea that our hearts are longing for a passionate love affair or a great adventure. That our hearts are longing for more than this busy external life of what we ought to do. They say, and I agree, that we want more than formulas and steps and principles. We want passions and dreams and desires and intimacy and beauty. I agree that if we listen to our hearts, we will realize that we are thirsty for something more.
But for many of us, the waves of first love [for Jesus] ebbed away in the whirlwind of Christian service and activity, and we began to lose the Romance. Our faith began to feel more like a series of problems that needed to be solved or principles that had to be mastered before we could finally enter into the abundant life promised us by Christ.
How often do we view life as a problem to be solved? If we can figure out the correct doctrinal beliefs and the right principles for living and exegete that difficult passage of scripture, then we’ll finally pass the test and be good Christians. As if all of life is one huge math problem; and once we solve it, we score a 100 A+ and get into Heaven with a gold star. But is that really what Jesus had in mind for us when He spoke about abundant life and living waters springing from within us?
We moved our spiritual life into the outer world of activity, and internally we drifted. We sensed that something was wrong and we perhaps tried to fix it –by tinkering with our outer life. We tried the latest spiritual fad, or a new church, or simply redoubled our commitment to make faith work. Still, we found ourselves weary, jaded, or simply bored. Others of us immersed ourselves in busyness without really asking where all the activity was headed. . . . Our hearts are telling us the truth — there really is something missing! For above all else, the Christian life is a love affair of the heart. It cannot be lived primarily as a set of principles or ethics. It cannot be managed in steps and programs. It cannot be lived exclusively as a moral code leading to righteousness. . . . The truth of the gospel is intended to free us to love God and others with our whole heart
This is probably why Paul wrote that we can speak in tongues or prophecy or understand all mysteries or have amazing faith or be very generous or even die as a martyr, but if we don’t have love we gain nothing. Love is the key. Passionate love, from-the-depths-of-the-heart love, with-everything-I-have love. That’s what God desires to give us.
Look around you. Don’t you see this huge hole in the people around you? This missing Romance. This living without heart. Don’t you see it in yourself? Don’t you see it in your church? We have plans and programs and budgets and goals. But do we seek to be in a Romance with God? Do our hearts overflow with the love He has given to us? Do we even spend much time loving and adoring God and blissfully swimming in the love He pours down on us? Or do we have a program all printed out in the church bulletin that we follow because that’s what we do? Or do we follow our Bible reading plan or get in our 15 minutes of Our Daily Bread and our prayer list? And if we did just stop and bask in His love and allow Him to fill us with that love full to overflowing, how would that affect the way we minister to people? Can you imagine? God’s love, real love, overflowing from us toward others. Wells of living water springing forth from our hearts. Real love with a real God and real people rather than a ministry strategy or an attendance goal or a gimmick to attract crowds.
Oh, I hope I finish this book. I’m reading snippets from several books right now, and I have many others on my to-read list. But even if I don’t read another chapter, this one has given me something to chew on. Jesus does not want me going through the motions; He is not impressed with my church activity and those parenting skills I gleaned from that how-to book. Jesus is not wowed by my following the rules for the sake of following the rules; He doesn’t care how many steps I come up with for being a better Christian. Jesus wants my heart. He wants me to long after Him. He wants to fill me with His love. He wants me to find my meaning within my relationship with Him. He wants me to be with Him and feel His love — which is tough to do if I’ve got everything all planned out so there’s no room for Him to be living and moving and interacting with me. This hole inside me was made by Him and can only be filled by Him. My heart is thirsty for more; it’s thirsty for the Living Water. And the Living Water is right here, waiting to satisfy my thirst.