If you were dating someone, and they told you they were a French model and you believed them, you would feel really good. You would show them off to your friends. You would be whisked away to sleep each night thinking about your good fortune. You would embrace them as the delicate eye candy they claimed to be.
Then you find out they lied. They are no model, and they are certainly not French. They were a fraud. They told you lies because they needed to be affirmed. They tricked you. Instead of affirming you, they manipulated your desire to be affirmed.
Now you are ashamed around your friends. You lose sleep each night reflecting on how gullible you were. And you can’t bear to even look at your former companion. You really wished it were true, because it made you feel so alive. Now you feel neglected and pathetic and used.
But there is a delayed effect as well. Trusting anything in the future is much more difficult. You have faced the fact that your heart loves to believe lies – especially lies that make you feel good. And you have faced the fact that basically every relationship on this earth is transactional. I give you this, you give me that. No such thing as free lunch and all that.
Okay, now what if it wasn’t your boyfriend/girlfriend, but your god who claimed to be a French model. What if it was the sexiness of your god that drew you in? The miraculous things he could do for your finances. The way he could help you clean up your sins with his three step programs. The hell-insurance he could buy you. The ‘prophetic’ words of his guru. The fact that somehow you can give something in return for these ‘gifts’. Your devotion, your blind faithfulness, your sacrifices.
But these are the lies you love to believe: that your god is primarily concerned about the transactions you and he can broker. That you have something you can offer. You love that your god – like a wannabe French model who needs affirmation – is served by human hands. There must be something I can give in return, right?
But the God of the bible is shockingly different. Not served by human hands – made obvious by his lack of concern for securing human dignity. This is a God who prefers to come to his people in a rather unattractive way – not like your guru who gives you a special prophecy. Not like your three steps to purity program. Not like your university Christian club who collectively scoffs at the debauchery out there on campus. A God who comes in weakness. A God who has a messed-up bunch of followers. A God whose way of creating is by first crucifying. The God who is not a sexy French model, but a naked bleeding carpenter.
But here is life. In this gruesome picture is the creation of your new heart. In this new relationship is your new identity. In this death, here is life. The body of Christ given for your forgiveness. You are forgiven. You are free.
And this promise won’t be broken. God’s promises are true even when he promises life from death. You might look at your life and realize it isn’t as attractive as you wished, and this might cause you to doubt the goodness of God’s promise. But this promise is not dependent on how sexy you become for God. This promise is dependent on how un-sexy he became for you.