I watched a (surprisingly decent) romantic comedy last night, called “Sleeping with Other People.” The movie stars Jason Sudeikis as Jake, and Alison Brie as Lainey. They’re college “friends” that reconnect as best friends later in life. I don’t need to give many details here, because it’s a pretty formulaic rom-com. Anyone that’s reading this already knows how it ends. But, there are two fairly profound moments that struck me–where I felt a connection with Jake.
The first comes when Lainey tells him, “If you want someone to fall for you, you gotta be you.” To this he replies, “I don’t think I like me well enough to introduce him to other people.”
I’ve written here before that finding God in my heart was easy when I put my mind to it, and that’s true. What’s more difficult to describe to people is why I sought him in my heart. What was the genesis of this change of heart? What made me do it? Why was I one way, and now I’ve chosen to be another? Because I knew in my heart that my truth was that I didn’t like myself well enough to be that person around other people. I knew the reason I was floundering was that I didn’t even like myself well enough to be myself. My heart was constantly heavy, and I always felt like I had to hold myself back from being true.
This week’s message, delivered by Pastor Beth, dealt with Chapter six of Galatians. In that chapter, Paul revisits one of the great proverbs (and one which I’ve addressed here in this space before): we reap what we sow. He goes a little further, though. He writes: “Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:8). Here, Paul speaks to what was wrong with my heart, and what was holding me back from becoming someone I liked well enough to be happy being. I was sowing of my own flesh, and doing so only for me. That’s why I loathed myself. That’s why I needed this change. I needed to become someone I could respect well enough to be that person around other people. I knew that I needed God to do it.
The other moment that struck a chord with me was perhaps the most profound moment I’ve ever seen in a run-of-the-mill rom-com. It went like this:
Lainey: “Are we in love with each other?”
Jake: *Nods head affirmatively*
Lainey: “What do you want to do about it?”
Jake: “Nothing. There’s nothing to be done about it. I love you for free.”
This is an idea that is almost untouchable and unknowable: that we could possibly love another person without expecting anything in return. I wrote a little about this idea in an earlier post about altruism, and the idea that every relationship and interaction is somehow transactional–many of us go our whole lives feeling that way. I’ve certainly had trouble wrapping my own mind around the concept of altruistic love.
But when you think about it, that’s what God’s love is. It is free. We don’t have to do anything to earn it. No action is required. Even if we could earn it, would any of us be capable of being worthy of such a gift? Unlikely. But, it is free. God loves me for free. All I have to do is accept that love. Christ sacrificed himself for me for free. All I have to do is accept His love and sacrifice. That’s it.
When I talk about being as much like Christ as possible, I think perhaps that altruistic love is the highest ideal realization of that principle. I must strive to give love for free.
This song has nothing to do with anything, except that it is profoundly beautiful, and was from the movie. It doesn’t have a religious connotation or bend–it’s entirely instrumental. Even so, it’s still something wondrous to behold.