We feel wronged. As I spoke with a friend about her painful life, how reckless and unpredictable God seems, she turned and with pleading eyes asked the question we are all asking somewhere deep within: "How can I trust a lover who is so wild? In the movie The Last of the Mohicans , brave Nathaniel has captured the heart of the beautiful Cora. With tremendous courage and cunning, he rescues her from an ambush set by the black-hearted Magua, leader of a warring tribe.
Nathaniel leads Cora, her sister, and a few other survivors to a hidden cave behind a waterfall. Just when it appears they will escape and live happily ever after, Magua and his savages discover their hideout. Once captured, the women may be spared but the men will surely be executed. One of the other men calls him a coward, accusing him of foul and selfish motives.
How is Cora feeling? What looks like abandonment may not be. Does God have a good heart? In the last chapter Brent spoke of God as the Author of the story, which is how most people see him if they see him at all. As Melville said, "The reason the mass of men fear God and at bottom dislike him is because they rather distrust his heart, and fancy him all brain, like a watch.
Caught up in the action, do you even think about the author? We identify with the characters in the story precisely because they are in the story. They face life as we do, on the ground, and their struggles win our sympathy because they are our struggles also. We love the hero because he is one of us, and yet somehow rises above the fray to be better and wiser and more loving as we hope one day we might prove to be. The Author lies behind, beyond. His omniscience and omnipotence may be what create the drama, but they are also what separate us from him.
Indeed, the worst sort of villain is the kind who executes his plans with cold and calculated precision. He is detached; he has no heart. We root for the hero and heroine, even come to love them, because they are living in the drama. They feel the heartache, they suffer loss and summon courage and shed their own blood in their struggles against evil. What if? Just what if we saw God not as Author, the cosmic mastermind behind all human experience, but as the central character in the larger story?
What could we learn about his heart? I worked as an actor in Los Angeles for a number of years. What makes him tick? Why does he do the things he does? Every human action has a motive behind it. Nathaniel jumps from the waterfall, leaving Cora behind.
He lives to fight another day. Why does he live to fight again? Beneath simple motives lie deeper purposes. What is it that drives this hero throughout the course of his life? His love for Cora. Here might be the key to our dilemma: The Scriptures are written from the perspective that God is the hero of the story. What is his motive? How does life affect him? In the beginning , which is to say, once upon a time, is used twice in the Scriptures. There is the first verse of Genesis, of course, but we cannot start there because when the curtain goes up on Genesis chapter 1, it is actually going up on later events, the human story.
He was with God in the beginning. The Trinity is at the center of the universe; perfect relationship is the heart of all reality. Think of your best moments of love or friendship or creative partnership, the best times with family or friends around the dinner table, your richest conversations, the acts of simple kindness that sometimes seem like the only things that make life worth living.
Like the shimmer of sunlight on a lake, these are reflections of the love that flows among the Trinity. We long for intimacy because we are made in the image of perfect intimacy. Our story begins with the hero in love. As Buechner reminds us, "God does not need the Creation in order to have something to love because within himself love happens.
There are selfish forms of love, relationships that create closed systems, impenetrable to outsiders. Real love creates a generous openness. Have you ever been so caught up in something that you just had to share it? The best things in life were meant to be shared. That is why married lovers want to increase their joy by having children.
And so it is with God. I want them to be one heart and mind with us" John Overflowing with the generosity that comes from the abundance of real love, he creates us to share in the joy of this heroic intimacy. One early mystic says we were created out of the laughter of the Trinity. I remember having a warm, settled feeling as I sat on the porch and listened to the older folks remembering the shared stories of their lives.
From the beginning, we know that God is a lover at heart, from all eternity. In Act II, there came angels. And for the most part, they seem thrilled to be a part of things. Scripture never shows us a bored angel. Quite the contrary. We also know there was a cosmic divorce, a betrayal in the heart of the universe. Satan, then named Lucifer, turned on his Maker. He rose up against his sovereign Lord, and with him legions upon legions of angels.
There was war in heaven. He tells the story of a majestic heavenly banquet thrown by the Father in honor of the Son. The first member of the Trinity, generous of heart, freely gives center stage to the second member of the Trinity. Satan is unable to endure the glory bestowed on Jesus. Satan is jealous for himself and this kind always ends in murder. Believing that he should have center stage, Satan draws a multitude of angels into battle against the throne of God: Arms on armor clashing brayed Horrible discord; dire was the noise Of conflict; overhead the dismal hiss Of fiery darts in flaming volleys flew So under fiery cope together rushed Both battles main with ruinous assault And inextinguishable rage.
All heaven Resounded; and, had earth been then, all earth Had to her centre shook. Deeds of eternal fame were done, But infinite; for wide was spread That war, and various; sometimes on firm ground A standing fight; then, soaring on main wing Tormented all the air; and all air seemed then Conflicting fire.
Long time in even scale The battle hung, till Satan No equal, ranging through the dire attack Of fighting seraphim confused, at length Saw where the sword of Michael smote, and felled Squadrons at once; with huge two-handed sway. At the approach of Satan, the great archangel Michael "from his warlike toil surceased," turning to confront the betrayer of their heaven: Author of evil, unknown till thy revolt.
How hast thou instilled Thy malice into thousands, once upright And faithful, now proved false. Heaven casts thee out. Though it seems almost incomprehensible, he deceived a multitude of the heavenly host by sowing the seed of doubt in their minds that God was somehow holding out on them. After the insurrection is squelched, that question lingers in the universe like smoke from a forest fire.
Sure, God won, but it took force to do it. Maybe his motive is simply to be in charge. Act III: His Heart on Trial When the curtain goes up on the story of humanity, we see God in a flurry of breathtaking dramatic actions that we rather blandly call "creation.
Why is he doing all this? We know he already had the perfect relationship and that he has suffered a betrayal in the heart of heaven simply for the offense of sharing it. Now we see him preparing to woo our hearts with a world that is beautiful and funny and full of adventure.
Yosemite and Yellowstone and Maui and the Alps; mangoes and blackberries and cabernet grapes; horses and hummingbirds and rainbow trout. God creates man and woman and sets them in Paradise. How long had he been planning this? Are we merely the replacement for the angels he lost, the first date he can find on the rebound? Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. What pleasure he took in planning this! He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.
Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living. The Message God begins our courtship with a surprise. Taking the blindfold off, he turns us around and reveals his handmade wedding present. Enjoy yourselves. Do you like it? Take it for a spin. But what are his intentions? In order for a true romance to occur, we had to be free to reject him. Power can do everything but the most important thing: it cannot control love.
In a concentration camp, the guards possess almost unlimited power. By applying force, they can make you renounce your God, curse your family, work without pay, eat human excrement, kill and then bury your closest friend or even your own mother. All this is within their power. Only one thing is not: they cannot force you to love them. This fact may help explain why God sometimes seems shy to use his power.
Love complicates the life of God as it complicates every life. But because of his grand heart he goes ahead and takes the risk, an enormous, colossal risk. Freedom is part of the explanation for the problem of evil. God is the author of some storms directly; but he is the author of the possibility of all storms in giving us freedom.
Can you imagine if on your honeymoon one of you sneaked off for a rendezvous with a perfect stranger? Adam and Eve kicked off the honeymoon by sleeping with the enemy. Then comes one of the most poignant verses in all Scripture. In love God creates us for love and we give him the back of our hand. Yet there was something about the heart of God that the angels and our first parents had not yet seen.
Here, at the lowest point in our relationship, God announces his intention never to abandon us but to seek us out and win us back. Up till this point we knew he was rich, famous, influential, even generous. Behind all that can still can hide a heart that is less than good. Grace removes all doubt.
Satan wanted center stage: He wanted to be the main character, he wanted to be the point. His plan now is to ruin the Sacred Romance, to get us all caught up in our own little sociodramas by telling us that we are the point. You can see how humanity goes along with this. Cain murders Abel; Lamech threatens to murder everyone else. First with Noah, then Abraham, then Israel, we see God pursuing a people whose hearts will be for him, with whom he can share the joy of the larger story.
But their faithfulness lasts about as long as the morning dew. How is God feeling by this point? As a person in the story , what is his heart experience? When we reach the prophets, we get a glimpse at what it feels like to be God. Eavesdrop on the argument and catch a glimpse of his heart: I long to be gracious to you. You are precious and honored in my sight, because I love you.
You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill, forsaking me, you uncovered your bed, you climbed into it and opened it wide. You have been false to me. I will take delight in you, as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will I rejoice over you.
From Isaiah I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me. What fault did you find in me that you strayed so far from me? Should I not punish them for this? Should I not avenge myself? I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with lovingkindness. What have I done to make you hate me so much? From Jeremiah I will answer you according to your idols [your false lovers] in order to recapture your heart. From Ezekiel Return to me and I will return to you.
Yet you have said harsh things about me. You can almost imagine him nursing his wounds, wondering where it all went wrong. And then an idea comes to him. The king was like no other king. Every statesman trembled before his power. No one dared breathe a word against him, for he had the strength to crush all opponents.
And yet this mighty king was melted by love for a humble maiden. How could he declare his love for her? In an odd sort of way, his kingliness tied his hands. But would she love him? She would say she loved him, of course, but would she truly? Or would she live with him in fear, nursing a private grief for the life she had left behind?
Would she be happy at his side? How could he know? If he rode to her forest cottage in his royal carriage, with an armed escort waving bright banners, that too would overwhelm her. He did not want a cringing subject. He wanted a lover, an equal. He wanted her to forget that he was a king and she a humble maiden and to let shared love cross the gulf between them.
For it is only in love that the unequal can be made equal. At the point of our deepest betrayal, when we had run our farthest from him and gotten so lost in the woods we could never find our way home, God came and died to rescue us. But after the Incarnation there can be no doubt. There is so much more to say. Jesus left to prepare our place in heaven; the Spirit has come to empower us to continue the invasion of the kingdom, which is primarily about freeing the hearts of others to live in the love of God.
There is so much in our own heart that remains to be released. Our enemy has not given up yet and his target is also our heart. And what of Act IV, the coming adventures of heaven? All that is for the chapters ahead. What is God like? Is his heart good? We know he is the initiator from first to last.
As Simon Tugwell reminds, God is the one pursuing us: So long as we imagine that it is we who have to look for God, we must often lose heart. But it is the other way about; He is looking for us. And so we can afford to recognize that very often we are not looking for God; far from it, we are in full flight from him, in high rebellion against him. They are mystics, relying on their own thoughts more prominently than Scripture. They rely heavily on other mystics, mainly Catholic, such as C.
Lewis, St John of the Cross, G. Chesterton and Phillip Yancey. The authors have two grave misunderstandings that pollute the entire book. First, they have no understanding of human depravity. Where the Bible says that the heart is deceitful and full of wickedness, the authors believe it to be essentially good as long as we understand the importance of a Sacred Romance.
Where the Bible teaches that no one seeks after God, the authors teach that all of us seek after God. They quote G. We all seek after Him, whether we know it or not. Inside of each of us is the desire to know and experience goodness. Hence God was surprised when humans rejected Him and did not know that Adam and Eve would sin. Of course this contradicts the Bible which says that God knew who would love Him before the world was even created.
There are literally hundreds of errors in this book but I will focus only on some of the major ones. One major annoyance I found with the book was that the authors quoted many sources without citations. This is usually a sign that an author has quoted inaccurately or far out of context. Even many Bible passages are quoted without citations. Their teaching bears only a vague resemblance to the Christianity of the Bible and should be avoided at all costs!
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The Sacred Romance is the story of our lives; it is God's story. It is His invitation to experience His unfathomable love for us. Before long, you will find. If you're feeling lost, disconnected, or longing for something more, join bestselling authors John Eldredge and Brent Curtis as they explore the greatest love of our lives: our faith. First published in , The Sacred Romance is quietly on its way to becoming a classic. Why have so many people connected so powerfully with this book?