So I guess by now you know how much I love reading and watching movies. With my hectic, crazy, frantic life, having a two and a half hour escape into someone else’s fantasy world is just enough to help me unwind. But as much as I’d love to switch my brain off during those brief moments of escape and just be, thinking and feeling nothing, it doesn’t work. I’m just not wired that way. My mind, much to my chagrin, didn’t come with an off switch; which means I analyze everything, all the time, even fictional movies and stories.
Another confession, I read Fifty Shades of Grey, or at least part of it. I wanted to see what all the hoopla was about. I wanted to better understand what was influencing the young ladies I work with and I wanted to better appreciate what was so appealing to not just young, single women but to married women with children and Christian women, no less. And, as much as I love to read and can generally get through most books pretty quickly, this one I could not. I just couldn’t finish it. Not because I’m such a prude, but because I felt so sorry for the main character and her warped views about submission and love. In addition, my analytical brain couldn’t stop wondering what message this book and movie was sending to the world about true love. And I couldn’t help but wonder at the number of people who were actually buying into these perceptions.
Here is Shula’s summary from the novel, Naked and Unashamed, regarding Fifty Shades of Grey: “The book, like so many others, has taken something defined, ordained, and sanctified by God and has made it twisted and convoluted.” And I wholeheartedly agree. I’m baffled when I discover all the distorted beliefs people have about love. Take, for instance, the main character from Fifty Shades of Grey– Anastasia believed that love is painful and humiliating; love lasts as long as the emotions last; love is about the thrill; you can make someone love you; and love lasts until it doesn’t. She believed that Christian (is his name ironic or what???) loved her because he “chose her” to be his next sub-missive.
These skewed ideas, images and practices have begun to rewire our thought patterns. These warped perceptions are becoming so entrenched in our value and belief systems that we no longer know what true love is. We no longer know how to love or be loved, and more tragically, we then project these false attributes and beliefs onto God. We’re becoming so comfortable dwelling in the shades of grey – love is conditional, love hurts, love is temporary – and we no longer recognize the simple black and white of the matter - God is love, He loves us more than we can ever imagine, and because of His love for us and in us, we have the capability to love others as He designed.
As we continue our exploration of how to live a SUBMITTED life, we’ll begin unpacking the next principle of SUBMIT which is Unconditional Love. Together we’ll gain a better understanding of God’s love for us; we’ll examine self-love God’s way' and we’ll assess what it truly means to love others.
But before we can genuinely comprehend what it means to love ourselves and to love others unconditionally, we must first recognize what, or more accurately, who love is. I John 4:8 states that God is love. I must’ve read this verse a thousand times. But it wasn’t until I began “analyzing” this principle of Unconditional Love that it struck me in a whole new way. The verse didn’t say that God is loving or that God is lovable. It said that God IS love. So rereading I Corinthians 13 for the thousandth time, I also gained new meaning. If God and Love are synonymous, then could that passage be read this way:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have God, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have God, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast but do not have God, I gain nothing.
4God is patient, God is kind. He does not envy, He does not boast, He is not proud. 5 He does not dishonor others, He is not self-seeking, He is not easily angered, He keeps no record of wrongs. 6God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8God never fails…
Are you excited yet, because I am! When I begin to appreciate just how magnanimous, how wondrous, how marvelous, how perfect and how great our God is, I can’t help but rejoice! See when we dwell in the “shades of grey” where our understanding of love is mystified, misled, and muddled, then it’s easy for use to fall prey to the world’s definitions of love. But when we comprehend Who God is, we will realize that true Love exists after all. True Love that endures in the good and the bad. True Love that is gentle and kind and warm. True love that is all consuming and big enough to support my mistakes, my hurt, my fears, and all my many flaws. True love that reassures that I, that you, that we, can love and be loved.
I’m so glad that with God, my Fifty Shades of Grey are covered by His Fifty Shades of Grace. Grace sufficient enough to accept me as I am. Grace ample enough to cover my sins and hide my imperfections, while molding me and shaping me into the 'me' I was designed and am destined to be. I am Fifty Shades of Grateful knowing that God is love and that Love dwells in me, bubbles over and impacts others, wrapping us all in a warm, soft, gentle blanket of Love.
Supporting Bible Texts:
- I John 4:8: Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
- I John 4:16: So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
- How would you define unconditional love?
- How does the biblical meaning of unconditional love compare to society’s definition of love?
- What are your thoughts regarding the concept that God and Love are one? How might this impact your perception of Who God is and what Love means?