Did he choose me, or did I choose him? Did he pursue me, or did I pursue him? Recently engaged to be married, I find these questions have crossed my mind about my relationship with my fiancé just as they have crossed my mind (and many theologian’s minds) about my relationship with God.
Almost as soon as I think those questions about my fiancé, I realize they are silly. The answer is that it’s mutual. At times one person or the other may have been more keen on the pursuit and the ways either of us pursued were very different. When it comes down to it, it was mutual.
Even though he did the actual asking, I answered. Answering is not weak, and asking is not forceful. He asked because someone has to ask. In any relationship, someone has to ask. There is always an ‘asking’ even if it is implied. But usually it’s not. “Do you want to go to lunch?” or “Can I get your number so I can text you?” are both ways a romantic relationship can start, but they can also begin a friendship.
We tend to think that when a new acquaintance asks us to lunch, we have to say ‘yes,’ but we don’t. We think that if someone posts a picture of their baby, we have to look even if we have no reason to do so. On the flip side, if we are doing the initiating, we think others are obliged to respond to us by agreeing, but they aren’t. We can, and sometimes should, say no. We can say no to lunch, to baby pictures, to a marriage proposal, and even to God.
My engagement really cemented in my mind that God is asking, perhaps begging at times, us to respond to Him in the positive. He doesn’t make us, though. He doesn’t as some (Calvinists) would say, have ‘irresistible grace.’ If that were true–just like if my fiancé had ‘irresistible grace’ when he proposed –I would have no ability to say no. If saying no was not an option with my fiancé, it would have negated much of what our relationship means. Knowing that we both want this, that we both agreed, that we both did the choosing and the pursuing adds to our relationship in ways hard to explain.
God gave us the process of moving out of singleness into engagement and finally into marriage to model the way His relationship is with us. He pursues and asks, and we agree.
(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)