I’ve spent hours at coffee shops across from boys I sit front row with at church, trying to get inside their heads about dating.
I mean, I’ve worked myself up and driven myself crazy trying to make a point that they couldn’t see.
So one Sunday, when the pastor man started talking about relationships, I was all ears and on the edge of my seat.
“And what’s up with this ‘Group Date’ thing, now? What is that? Hey boys, start actually asking girls out on dates,” he said.
Then there was me: amen-ing from the front row.
“They will know us by our love, amen?”he said.
That shut me up.
That was the argument I hadn’t heard before, and it seemed to be the only one that mattered.
Church, I found a fatal flaw in our paving the way, in our standing out, in our “being in the world, not of it.”
You see, we can stay abstinent because the world is not; we can be the go-to designated driver because everyone at the party knows we won’t drink too much; we can dress differently and speak differently and spend more time inside the walls of a church building studying our Bibles in community groups and devote our weekends to praying over the homeless– but I found where we fail in the mundane: loving each other.
And no, I don’t mean our friends. We already do a really good job at stressing how close we are with one another.
I’m talking about the committed kind of love, the for better or for worse, the holding hands and opening doors, the fearless and persistent pursuit kind of love.
Where did we miss it?
When we were busy starting our movements?
When we were praying over the next new church plant?
When we were raising money and sending out new missionaries to far off, aching lands?
When we were applying to different seminaries so we could become more God-centered leaders?
Where did we miss the girls going home in tears to sit on their bathroom floors because they’d been led on and left to be second choice to ‘the guys’?
Where did we miss the boys shutting down and clamming up because they bore their souls just to get played with by the one he tried to love?
I think, lately, we do a good job at being selfish.
We’re quick to say we aren’t ready just so we don’t have to slow down and give something of our souls, our hearts.
Take our time, take our glory, take our works; know us for what we do and say and the community we’ve built around ourselves.
But know us by our love?
All I know is that I’ve sat at pizza joints across from boys who wanted to show me a good time in the city– boys who told me how beautiful they thought I looked, who opened the door for me, who payed for me and couldn’t wait to see me again because they couldn’t see me enough… And I had to remind myself that being pursued isn’t the only thing this heart wants.
Sometimes I just wonder what it shows the world when we’re loud about talking about our loneliness and heartache and settle for unlike-minded people because the world does a better job at pursuing one another than God’s people do.
I don’t think I’ll amen another pastor who calls us out.
Because it’s all too true, and my heart wants more for us.
I don’t want the applause,
I want the world to look at us and be jealous of the love we share for one another.
And no, this isn’t another soap box rant about how I’m lonely and boys don’t know how to actually be intentional, they just know how to say that word in five different languages or about how weird it is to walk into church buildings and see guys walking in swarms instead of approaching girls or even about how I need some answers to why boys don’t ask girls out anymore— no, for the first time it’s not about me and what I want: it’s about what the world sees when they look to the rising generation of Christians and only see a bunch of broken hearts and burned bridges.
They’ll know us by our love–
And lack thereof.