Tuesday, August 15, 2006

'You Give Me Something' (James Morrison)

I’ve had James Morrison’s song ‘You Give Me Something’ going around in my head for the past few days – it’s a catchy song and I think his voice is incredible – a kind of young Otis Redding or male Joss Stone. But it’s the lyrics of the song which have fascinated me. It seems to me to be an unusually honest song – a love song, definitely – but one that admits that getting to know someone better is also somewhat frightening. Laying ourselves open to another person brings the mix of emotions that Morrison mentions. Getting to know someone romantically makes us feel both ‘scared’ and ‘alright’ at one and the same time. As he puts it, ‘For every piece of me that wants you / Another piece backs away.’ In fact things are sometimes so confusing that we struggle to even ‘know our hearts’ at certain points!

I’ve been reminded of a couple of things as I’ve listened in over the past few days.

I’ve been reminded that we crave open relationships, where we’re known as we really are by other people and loved nonetheless. This isn’t surprising, as we were created to be relational. In Genesis 2, we see the beautiful relationship between Adam and Eve – the sort of human relationships that we were created for. Genesis 2:25 says that, originally, ‘The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame’ – a kind of metaphor for the open and accepting relationship between them. We long for the same thing – to be known by others and still loved the same.

The sad truth is that relationships are not like this. Genesis 3 records the sad case of sin entering the world and ruining the relationships we were created for, including those with each other. Just as Adam and Eve’s relationship was broken, so are ours. We manipulate others and are manipulated, even in those relationships we care about most. We don’t tell the whole truth. And so even our closest friendships often have elements of fear in them – ‘what if they find out that I…?’ And we’re scared to commit ourselves to others too.

Into this situation and these feelings, the apostle John, when speaking of God’s love, says, ‘There is no fear in love, because perfect love drives out fear’ (1 John 4:17). In saying this, John is saying that God’s love is perfect and unconditional, because love is his very characteristic. We need have no fear of letting God down, and so we can be ourselves, honestly and intimately, before God. It means that, even though we come before the awesome God of the Universe, we need not back away. God knows us inside out and, even then, through Jesus’ sacrifice to deal with our sin, he still wants friendship with us. This is an incredible relationship which means that, at no point, need we ‘back away’ from God.

Given that Christians are those who have received God’s true judgement of us, as imperfect, broken and sinful people, but loved nonetheless, Christians are called to treat others in this light, including friends, girlfriends, boyfriends and marriage partners. We’re to realise that others have shortcomings, that they are imperfect and sinful, but to love them nonetheless. This undergirds the Christian understanding of marriage. No doubt, letting somebody into your life is still scary, but we can know unconditional love despite our failings from the God who made us.

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