The teachings on romance with Jesus stem from a greater problem within evangelical circles, as yesterday’s post on The Cripplegate reminded me. The Dangers of Man-Centered Theology demonstrates (in quite convicting ways) how easily we make the Gospel all about us. We may give lip-service to the fact that Jesus deserves all the praise, honor and glory, but honesty forces us to admit that most of the time we follow Him with the expectation of receiving goodies.
I can’t help thinking of this passage:
25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” ~~John 6:25-40 (ESV)
The crowd wanted Jesus because He met their temporal needs, not because He deserved their adoration. He fed the 5000 to reveal Himself as the Almighty Creator, but the people chose to focus on Him as a cosmic Waiter Who bore the responsibility of satisfying their appetites.
We do pretty much the same thing now. Maybe most of us have enough delicacy to avoid the blatant Name-It-And-Claim-It teachings of people like Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer and Benny Hinn, but how many of us fall for Beth Moore, Rick Warren and Sarah Young as they offer a watered-down Jesus that romances us, gives us purpose and whispers in our ear? Instead of physical bread, this man-made Jesus lets us feel special about ourselves.
Certainly, the Lord loves His people, and He graciously cares for our needs. He does so, not because we deserve His mercy (we don’t), but because He is amazingly kind and generous in the face of our unworthiness. His kindness shouldn’t stimulate our greed, so that we constantly dream up new ways for Him to shower us with blessings. Quite the contrary, those blessings ought to cause us to shower Him with praise and adoration. They should place our attention back on Him.