I’ve been listening a bit the past couple days to Frank Ocean’s album, channel ORANGE. The album won a Grammy and Ocean is just a phenomenally talented young man. Lyrically and vocally, he’s extraordinarily gifted. He made waves last year when he blogged about a same-sex attraction he’d experienced. There’s a song he wrote that is primarily about his wrestling with those emotions called “Bad Religion”.
There’s one line in particular that really stuck with me:
If it brings me to me knees
it’s a bad religion
Frank Ocean is not the only person that feels this way. Deep down, this is what we all want to be true. No one likes the idea of a God that can bring us to our knees. The idea of a God that loves us and has grand plans for our lives, that we can get behind. We can get excited about that. We’re on board.
A God that forces us to obey Him? No one’s a fan of that. A God that tells us “no” and demands that we change is not going to ever be super popular. Even though He’s patient and faithful and guides us through it all, it means we don’t get to do what we want to do. Who needs that?
There’s this misconception that if something makes us feel uncomfortable, if it doesn’t make us happy, it’s bad. So if God asks someone to do something hard, asks them to give up something they really want, clearly it’s God that’s wrong. The problem with this is, of course, the Bible. The entirety of Scripture is lousy with stories of God asking difficult things of His people. Old Testament, New Testament, they’re both chock full of God asking for things to be given up or accomplished that are difficult, painful, or both.
Perhaps it stems from a misunderstanding of love. We think of love as this emotional bliss. Sunshine, rainbows, and butterflies. This is just a small segment of romantic love, however, it doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what love actually is.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
–1 John 3:16
This is a much better definition of love. Love is sacrifice. If we are going to say that we love anyone, there has to be mutual sacrifice involved. This is true of our friendships, our romances, and any other relationship. Christ has sacrificed himself for us and we, as a result, are to sacrifice for him. Sometimes, that means that we don’t get our way and you know what? That’s ok.
Later in the song, Ocean laments:
I can never make him love me
Frank misunderstands here. You don’t have to. That’s the Gospel.