An Unexpected Affection

hands with God
Does the thought of God actually being affectionate strike you as odd, or irreverent?
Or does the idea sound very appealing?
What kind of God do we actually have on our hands?

The strange thought hit me today as I read the letter that seasoned warrior Paul wrote to his friends and allies called the Philippians.

In the beginning, Paul talks about how he prays for a particular group of people with “the affection of Christ”. It struck me. The affection of Christ?  Honestly, I’ve heard all the talk on the Love of God. And to be sure, that is one huge and foundational topic. But frankly, for most of us, it’s almost TOO big. Too big to grasp. Make real.

There was something in that statement, “the affection of Christ”, that sent a small but very penetrating shot to my heart. First, the thought that God himself is actually affectionate. Yes, God is love. But God affectionate?  Hang with me here now because we usually just want to gloss over this stuff on our way to (what we think are) bigger and more pressing theological points. There is something Revolutionary in this distinction. An Affectionate God. It makes him so… Human.

I can recall the times when affection expressed by another has impacted my life. I remember that first awkward time when my first real girlfriend in 4th grade reached out to hold my nervous, sweaty hand when we were riding in the rear-facing seat of my parent’s station wagon. I remember how I was so slowly inching my hand millimeter at a time closer and closer to hers. Hoping that it’d go unnoticed until I was ready to make “my move”. Finally she just reached over and grabbed it and we held hands for the rest of the ride to wherever it was we were going. I distinctly remember the feeling when that act of young affection invaded my world. I felt… Wanted.  That someone outside myself saw SOMETHING in me… No, that’s not it.. They saw ME, and just wanted to say, “I want to be close to you.”

It’s physical. And that’s the point.

You see, words are cheap. Anyone can tout a “position”. And we especially see that in our backwards world. And it is this daily barrage of cheap talk that has and continues to erode away even the meaning of the most important words we could ever hear. Namely, God telling us I love you. The din of this world, coupled with the messages of each of our own experiences and stories, basically make even the most remarkable and life-changing truths and statements almost, well, life-less. We are numb to them.

But here comes Jesus in only the way He seems to know how, and says, “Wait!  I do love you, and let me show you I’m not just all talk”… And he reaches over and grabs your hand.

Think I’m kidding?

He touches the lepers (their equivalent of someone in the advanced stages of AIDS), he touches the prostitutes, he touches the outcasts of society, he touches… he is showing these people his love in an undeniable way.

And why do his followers of that time use that term?  Because they witnessed it. They saw it. They saw Him being affectionate with these people.

Don’t you see that the God who made holding hands such a wonderful experience, who invented kissing, who put that warmth in your heart when your son or daughter runs to you and gives you a hug, who created dogs who lick your face and dance around after you’re gone for just five minutes, who created cats that purr at your touch, who knew the warm breathe of the horses muzzle would warm this cowboy’s heart after a hard day at work… this Jesus, is the Creator of affection.

And here’s the absolute best part that, if we let it find its mark, will change you…

It’s YOU that he feels this way for. It’s YOUR hand he wants to hold. It’s YOUR presence that he dances for. It’s You!

All creation is reflecting this one simple but profound truth… As his child, God sees the real you, and says… I want YOU!

The Affection… The real, genuine affection… of Jesus. Let him grab your, and my, hand today.

Live the Revolution!