[Guest Post by Casey Tygrett] – Should a couple say the words “you complete me” to each other?
And I’m not talking about Tom Cruise and Renée Zellweger in the movie Jerry McGuire.
Before you begin dating, start with the understanding that who you are in Christ.
You are one in whom Christ dwells.
You are promised life and life to the full.
You are hidden with Christ in God.
Once these promises and realities are deeply hooked into your heart and mind, freedom in relationships flows naturally out.
Heartbreak still happens–and emotions and connections still have deep impact on followers of Jesus because we’re people built for relationship.
However, if we start by building our identity in Christ first and live confidently in that identity we can date without the pressure of making things work or compromising values and hopes in order to get close to someone.
Don’t miss this: you can date without the pressure of pursuing someone who will complete your life.
Your life is complete in Christ.
You don’t need another person to make it complete.
Another person may lend color, love, and impact to your life in Christ–but in the pursuit of that deep and intimate relationship the pressure often gets misplaced and it becomes a broken and dysfunctional mess. When you alter or change who you are in Christ–you risk significantly damaging the relationship that may be budding in your life.
Jesus says, “Seek first the reign of God in your world, and everything else will fall in line as it is needed.” (Matt. 6:33, my paraphrase)
Who are you, really, in the depths of your heart?
Do you believe you are one in whom Christ dwells and delights?
If so, how does your current dating situation reflect that?
Set some time to have an honest conversation with God–through prayer and Scripture–on the subject of your identity in him.
Let His freedom release the pressure on your life so that you can give yourself to the good and holy intimacy that may come your way. In other words, so that you can kiss dating goodbye–or not.
You should date like you don’t need to.
The highway of dating is always dotted with potholes.
There are times when two people gel so closely but then a small issue becomes a major issue and the whole project goes bust. There are times when expectations and assumptions about what is most important are proven wrong and two people begin to wonder who they’ve really been spending so much time and energy on.
These situations happen so often that even engaging in dating relationships becomes unappealing. If that’s what is possible, count me out. I don’t want to try and make that mess work.
I believe it is at that point that things start to turn in a rich and holy direction.
Followers of Jesus, in dating relationships, need to remember they have something that is beyond description as far as the depth and health it can bring to the process of getting to know someone else to the point of joining their lives into one life (Matthew 19:6).
They have a new identity–beloved children of God–and no one can take that away.
But what does this mean for dating?
In Colossians 3:17, Paul says “Do everything in the name of Jesus Christ.” In the original Greek, the word “everything” has an interesting meaning.
It means “everything.”
I’ve messed around with the idea of how strange this could be–how does one brush their teeth in the name of Jesus?–for example. But when it comes to interpersonal relationships this verse ignites a spark of transformation that can’t be contained or quelled or hidden.
Dating in the name of Jesus Christ takes more than just praying before meals, going to church or reading the Bible together.
Earlier in Colossians 3:3 says that “For you died, and now your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
As mysterious as this phrase sounds, the root of it is that the old you has been drained of life and a new you lives with a core identity of being hidden in Christ.
To date in the name of Jesus is to fully and radically embrace that with or without a significant other, you are already fully alive.
Casey Tygrett is the Spiritual Formation Pastor at Parkview Christian Church (Orland Park, IL) and blogs at www.caseytygrett.com. He is also a spiritual director and the author of The Jesus Rhythm (e-book). He lives with his wife and daughter in Chicago, IL.