Skip to main content

pick me

I began reading the book of Hosea this week. I couldn't help but think that this was not how Hosea had pictured his life would turn out. What young man dreams about growing up and marrying a prostitute? Who wants to love someone who will toss that love aside lightly time after time? Why would one run after an adulterous and unfaithful partner and take them back? If God had posted this assignment on http://www.monster.com/ would you have signed up for it? Yes, please, pick me! I want to be used and rejected and hurt in a relationship. Surely, anyone knows that these are just not good boundaries. This kind of depraved and uncivil behaviour is more than enough reason for divorce. And it seems to be a waste of a perfectly good man. Surely he could have married a beautiful girl who loved him dearly, appreciated his dedication and good character, and returned his affection. Isn't that what each of us wants? Isn't that what we deserve if we live right?

And yet, God invited him to marry a whore. And Hosea did it. Why? I believe that he recognised the opportunity that God was presenting to him. It was an invitation to so much more. God was saying, "I am asking you to act like me, to love like me, to be a picture of my uncontainable and extravagant attitude towards you. Where everyone else would walk away, I pursue. I make you lovely and lovable by my love. You are desirable because I desire you, not because of anything you are or do. No one knows this kind of love, it is foreign to people. Will you show them? Will you live it out? Come, work with me on this masterpiece of love."

I believe that at any given moment, we are either whores or lovers. We are takers or givers. We either seek to please ourselves or we please another. I am on a journey to pursue less of my own desires and chase more wholeheartedly after those things that God loves. And most of those things are actually people just like me whose lovability exists mainly in the truth that God loves them.

We live in a world awash in love stories. Most of them are lies. They are not love stories at all - they are lust stories, sex-fantasy stories, domination stories. From the cradle we are fed on lies about love.... Hosea is the prophet of love, but not love as we imagine or fantasize it.... It is an astonishing story: a prophet commanded to marry a common whore and have children with her. It is an even more astonishing message: God loves us in just this way - goes after us at our worst, keeps after us until he gets us, and makes lovers of men and women who know nothing of real love. - Eugene Peterson in the introduction to Hosea, The Message

This is a fire hydrant on the street in front of my place.

Comments

Shelley said…
Oh to have the relationship with Jesus needed to be able to do this authentically and with true love...not just with resolve and strong willpower...

I don't...I need my boundaries close in, just to pay attention to my sinful tendencies and to stay authentic.

What kind of a man was Hosea to be able to do this and to stay authentic? (to not be sickeningly self-righteous and cold-hearted?)
Shelley said…
have you read 'Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers? it is a truly inspired portrayal of the story of Hosea...
Matte Downey said…
yes, I have read Redeeming Love. It made me uncomfortable when I read certain parts, which is a good thing, I think, because encountering a glimpse of the unrestrained strong love of God is quite unsettling to the safe, conservative smallness in me.
Shelley said…
yes. me too. The nakedness parts challenged me through and through. How vulnerable am I willing to be with God?

Popular posts from this blog

what does the cross mean?

Words which we use a lot can sometimes become divested of their depth of meaning. In the Christian tradition, we talk about the cross a lot. We see visual representations of the cross in prominent places in our gathering spaces, we wear crosses around our necks, some get crosses tattooed on their bodies. The cross is a ubiquitous symbol in Christianity, so lately I have been asking myself, what exactly does the cross mean? For the most part, the cross as portrayed in contemporary Christianity is a beautiful thing, festooned with flowers and sunsets and radiant beams of light (just google cross or cross coloring page). But in the first century, the cross was a symbol of disgrace. To the Roman empire, this ignoble instrument of death was for those who were traitors and enemies of the state. We are many centuries removed from this view of the cross as the locus of torture and death and shame. The fact that Christianity has made the cross a symbol of hope and beauty is a good thing, but p…

stained and broken

Recently, I was asked to speak at another church, and the passage of Scripture which was assigned to me was John 1:6-8. "There came a man commissioned and sent from God, whose name was John. This man came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe [in Christ, the Light] through him. John was not the Light, but came to testify about the Light." (John 1:6-8, Amplified Bible)

The first question I usually ask when reading something in the Bible is this: What does this tell me about God? Two things are immediately obvious - God is a sending God and God wants to communicate - but there is a third which merits a bit more attention. Though God could communicate directly with humanity, sending truth and love to every individual via some divine mind-and-heart-meld, God chooses to send messengers. Not only that, instead of introducing Jesus directly to the world as the main event, an opening, warm-up act appears as a precursor. What is the point of incorporati…

the songs we sing

NOTE: I am going to make some pretty strong statements below, but understand that it is my way of taking an honest, hard look at my own worship experience and practice. My desire is not to be overly critical, but to open up dialogue by questioning things I have assumed were totally fine and appropriate. In other words, I am preaching to myself. Feel free to listen in.

---------------------

When I am in a church meeting during the singing time, I sometimes find myself silent, unable to get the words past my lips. At times I just need a moment of stillness, time to listen, but other times, the words make me pause because I don't know that I can sing them honestly or with integrity. This is a good thing. We should never mindlessly or heartlessly sing songs just because everyone else is. We should care deeply about what we say in our sung, communal worship.

At their best, songs sung by the gathered body of Christ call to life what is already in us: the hope, the truth, the longing, t…