Finding the fear (Jesus is not my boyfriend)

Christ the redeemer statue reminding us to fear God

I am supremely grateful that I grew up in a church that introduced me to Jesus as a friend. From a young age, He has always felt close. I don’t want to lose this, but I sometimes wonder if I even come close to fully understanding who He is. I have noticed that many others have a more reverential relationship with God. I don’t want to think of him as stand-offish or push him away, but perhaps my relationship is too familiar. I don’t think I am alone in thinking this; many people have criticised modern worship songs that sound more like soppy love songs and appear to relate to Jesus as a boyfriend. In the face of wars and famines, my Jesus seems too mellow and amiable.

He’s wild, you know.

C.S. Lewis uses these words to describe the lion Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia. In the stories, Aslan is an allegory and represents Jesus. I sense that I need to take this warning to heart and stop domesticating Christ.

So, what can I do to increase my fear and awe of Christ?

My hope is to see God differently by changing my actions, just like seeing someone familiar in a different context. I’ve noticed something like this occur when people meet my military husband dressed in his uniform. They might have known him for years socially, but they act differently around him the first time they see him in his combats. Likewise, most of us probably have an old school friend who has gone on to do something extraordinary. We can feel surprised when we see them speaking in front of 100s or 1000s; they are capable of much more than we thought. Perhaps we know of a delinquent from school who is now a school teacher or police officer; they completely surprise us, and we couldn’t have predicted how they would turn out. We thought we knew them, but we only know them in part.
Similarly, when we eat with fancy crockery at a well-laid table, the food tastes different to how it seems when we eat it with one fork while seated on the sofa in front of the TV. The food may be the same, but somehow we notice more flavours if we eat at a table without distractions.

God doesn’t change.

I am aware that he remains the same; instead, my mind is limited, and I struggle to comprehend all of Him. I am looking to reclaim the aspects of His character I have overlooked or side-stepped in my walk with Christ. The plan is to try out some spiritual actions and practices. Then I’ll write about them on this website, sharing what has helped me view God differently and what hasn’t. I hope you’ll join me on this journey since I’d like to know if you try them too and what experiences you have.

Here are some of the actions I plan to attempt.

I have based them on our senses, which is how we take in new information. I’ll be working through them slowly, not necessarily in this order:
Touch and movement: Sacred ground – taking my shoes off, Labyrinth, Kneeling, Covering my head, Handling the bible with gloves.
Sight: Stained glass, Cathedrals and Christian architecture.
Smell: Incense.
Hearing: Hymns, Liturgy, Evensong, Handel’s Messiah and Christian oratorios.
Many senses: Wild nature, Pilgrimage.
Feel free to suggest more in the comment section below; I’d love to try others.

I know these methods are not silver bullets.

Jesus is not a genie in a bottle and won’t suddenly appear to me in all His majesty just because I do x, y and z. I am simply seeking to encounter God in new ways to enlarge my vision of who He is; I sense that I may be missing out on some awe-inspiring aspects of His character. By practising some reverential traditions, I hope to help myself see and know God differently. I trust the Holy Spirit will turn up too and work in me.

Are you ready to begin?

First off, and this is by no means compulsory, please complete this anonymous short survey about your present worship habits; there are only three questions.

Second, please join me on this journey by entering your email address below; you’ll receive a notification each time I post an article on this blog; I promise that it won’t be too often. And if you want to know how other people worship, I’ll also be able to share the survey results with you (all responses are anonymous).

Lastly, start trying out some of these practices. I will begin with covering my head when I pray. I live in Nepal, where many female Christians do this, so it should be easy to incorporate. I need to remember to take a scarf with me when I go out!

Thanks for reading this far; together, I hope we can rediscover a healthy fear and awe of God.

DislocatedChristians exists to create and support a community of like-minded people. My prayer is that you’ll find some echoes of your questions about international church and culture in these pieces, and it will encourage you to know others have the same thoughts. Please like, comment on or share my articles if you’ve found them helpful. I’d be immensely grateful if you could follow me; click towards the bottom of the page.

If you’d like to support my writing, please consider buying one of my books.

Just as we are each a work in progress, so too is DislocatedChristians. Sometimes I’ll get things wrong, and I hope you’ll forgive me and continue to stick around when that happens.

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