So a Catholic, a Calvinist, and this Reformed guy, walk into a bar on the internet. I think that sentence alone is just begging for a good punchline. Perhaps there is one after all, because I certainly had a chuckle when the idea of “shacking up with the Lord” was mentioned. Hooking up, playing house, living together, basically having a long-term illicit affair with the Lord, outside the bounds of marriage.
First let me not descend into my characteristic sarcasm here, because I think the heart behind these 3 conversations was well-intentioned, the concern for people’s souls, real, and how beautiful it is to see that. It is so rare in my world that anybody cares about anyone else’s eternal soul at all. In fact, most of the time the argument is usually against the idea that people even have souls.
So I was not offended, and it makes me almost reluctant to write this post, but I must. I have to launch a gentle objection here and state that something is all wrong when we say things like that, when we accuse people of “shacking up with the Lord.” For one, we’ve just made a relationship with the Lord sound sinful, inadequate, illicit, because it does not meet our personal standards of approval.
The reason the analogy does not work is because we are talking about the Lord here. He invented marriage. Even just “shacking up” with Him is awesome. We are all just shacking up with Him, in the sense that He is the one who brings the covenant, He is the one who makes that relationship Holy. We are not worthy of this marriage ourselves, and to believe that, is to miss the whole point.
The Canaanite woman has the right idea, “And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” – Matthew 15:27 And the Lord says, “… O woman,” Jesus answered, “your faith is great! Let it be done for you as you desire.”
Praise the Lord for His crumbs and don’t frown upon those who scramble for them. We are actually all dogs at His table. He honored those who sought Him. We should do the same.
Next we have the Samaritan woman, the woman at the well to be found in John 4. She has no husband or she had five and she is probably shacking up with a sixth. This is the woman Jesus chooses to first reveal himself to, and she in fact becomes one of the first evangelists, going forth to say, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?”
The tale of the Samaritan woman with her many husbands and the Canaanite woman with her crumbs, along with Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus,” should all serve to teach us something about how the Lord perceives our tribalism, our divisions, our silly little human hierarchies. He came and turned them all on their head.
Tribalism really is something innate to us as humans, we tend to draw off into our clans and social groups, and you see this manifested in our divisions, in our politics, in our racism, in our many protestant denominations. In our propensity to forget we are each and every one dogs at his table feeding off of His crumbs, made Holy and righteous not by our own virtue, but by His. Sadly, we tend to cast out, cast aside people along tribal lines, falsely believing they somehow threaten our own standing.
So, I’m a big fan of marriage, love the way it becomes an analogy for Christ’s relationship with the church, but when it comes to our own relationship with the Lord, I am not worried about those who are perceived as just “shacking up,” I am concerned about those who seem to believe that their own virtue and worth is what makes them a follower of Christ. That’s the wrong heart, the wrong attitude, and runs contrary to what the bible tries to teaches us in so many different ways.