Lately I've been spending my down-time watching dating shows on Netflix and other online platforms. The drama is compelling. As someone who loves to study human behavior, there's lot's to chew on in this genre of entertainment.
One of the hardest things to watch as a viewer is when one party is head-over-heels for someone who doesn't feel the same. Unrequited love is a heart-breaking phenomena that seems to be universal to humankind; it happens again and again in different contexts, countries and cultures.
I cringe when I see a man with lovey puppy dog eyes being overlooked by the person he's infatuated with. Or when I see a "player" stringing a love-interest along when he's just not that "into" her. Love should be a two-way street, when it's one-sided, something's wrong.
The Bible tells a story about a man, named Hosea, who was a prophet. God told Hosea to do something drastic to show the people of God His love for them. He instructed Hosea to marry someone who "just wasn't that into him." In fact, his wife, Gomer, was a prostitute. She was used to transactional relationships, not relationships based on love, sacrifice, honor or respect.
As I read through the story of Hosea and Gomer I'm reminded of the characters in those modern dating shows who don't quite know how to love, how to commit, how to open their hearts to vulnerability. With Gomer, time and again Hosea had to go find her with other men and bring her home, professing his continued love and commitment to her, despite her actions.
The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods...”
How often do I, like Gomer, wander away from intimacy with God, looking for a quick fix or transaction? When I'm feeling down or lonely, do I turn to prayer or do I turn on the TV for comfort? Grabbing some food to celebrate is quicker and easier than turning on worship music and thanking God for what He's doing in my life. Sometimes my actions show that I'm "just not that into" Him.
Transactional relationships are easy. They don't require humility or self sacrifice. They are all about what you can get out of them. A transactional relationship with God looks like me going to church and Him blessing me for going. Or me praying for something and Him giving me what I asked for. True love isn't transactional, it's sacrificial. How painful must it have been for Hosea to put himself out there and ask his wife to return? How many times has God had to woo me back when my affection has wandered from Him?
In Hosea we see how unconditional God's love is. We get a glimpse of the strength and vulnerability required to continue to love someone despite their unfaithfulness. Today I am awed by the unfailing love of God. Are you?