The Bachelor. One of tv's Monday night must-see shows. It's been on a few seasons and still seems to carry a captive audience. Since it began, I've probably seen it twice but my girlfriend and I have watched the last few weeks. You know - it's 9pm, the kids are finally in bed but not asleep, you click on the tube to catch some news and viola! there's The Bachelor. So, you watch. Or at least we do.
Premise, you ask? The show begins with one eligible bachelor and a room full of equally eligible young ladies. And each week, after dates and pool parties and intense conversations over candle-light, one or more of the young ladies does not receive a rose; in other words, they get sent home. The show builds to an ABCesque conclusion with only two or three ladies left and only one will get the coveted rose and ride off into the sunset with The Bachelor and live happily ever after. Or at least we hope.
I'm sitting there the other night, watching this show, and suddenly I realize: That's a prevalent picture of God. Not by folks out in the world, but by folks who profess to be closest to Him. God is the consumate, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing, Bachelor. And we, humanity, are the young ladies. Although some could care less, there are some of us who desperately desire to be with The Bachelor God. And so we do and do and be and be and try and try and hope and hope to be one of the ones who gets the rose, a.k.a., ends up with God. But The Bachelor God holds all the cards and has the power to extend or with-hold the rose from us. Sometimes we think we know what he wants and so we speak or act accordingly and all seems well. However, other times we think we know what he wants, only to find out it's not so clear sometimes, and we're left reeling, wondering what kind of a deal this is.
And although you might say, "Well, I'm not so sure about that. I mean, come on, God's not capricious." O.k. But look at how we act; again, this is folks who profess to know God. We're respectful enough of one another but competition lurks just below the surface. We judge one another worthy or unworthy of the rose of God's love based on how we vote in elections, what kind of movies we watch, our stance on Harry Potter, if we have debt or not, whether our kids know scripture, and the list just goes on and on. And so we strut our stuff, hoping to win the approval of The Bachelor God, truly believing that he loves us, but somewhere, inside the back of our hearts, also believing it could go south at the end. No rose. No nothing. That we would do our best by God, well aware of our faults but also sincerely desiring him, but still not get the rose because of something about ourselves that just doesn't cut it: our looks, our family history, our views on controversial issues, our commitment to the "church"...that one day God would say, "Tom, will you accept this rose?" And Tom gets misty eyed, hugs the Lord, and says, "Oh yes!" And then Katie's left standing there without a rose and St. Peter says, "Katie, take a moment and say your goodbyes." Katie becomes overwhelmed by grief, hugs the Lord who says, "Katie, you are an amazing person and I've truly enjoyed my time with you." And then she goes to hell.
I believe The Bachelor God to be a lie. When Christ died on the cross and said, "It's finished," that secured enough roses for every created person since time began. They're laying on that silver platter in the throne room of God. Interesting, isn't it, that we believe the question God's going to ask us as we stand before him is: "Why should I let you into my heaven?" What if the question is going to be: "Shirley, will you accept this rose?" And she gets all knee-bowing and tongue-confessing and says, "Oh yes!" But then she turns around and Warren is behind her and his life has been quite a departure from her's and his stance on many things has been decidedly different and he begins to grow overwhelmed by despair. But then the Lord steps forward and says, "There are roses enough for all. Don't be afraid. Warren, will you accept your rose?" And Warren falls on his face before the Lion of God and cries, "But Lord, you know I didn't...and sometimes I...and there were months when...and..."
And then the angels of heaven gasp in astonishment as the the Lamb of God bends his knee and extends his nail-scarred hand and says, "My son, I know. I know you didn't...and sometimes you...and there were years when...and...But I love you, always have. I am jealous, but I am not fickle. I am holy, but not capricious. I am love. And mercy always triumphs. This rose has your name on it, that name I've chosen just for you. I want you to have it and be with me forever." Warren struggles to his feet, hugs the Lord, and then enters into his rest, to live happily ever after. But as he walks he continues to look over his shoulder, unable to keep his eyes off the Lord. "Who is this One?" he says. And the angels cry out, "It is the Lord, the King of Glory."