We are talking about what every human being, in the depth of our soul, longs for more than anything else. Whether single or married, widowed, divorced; whether seven or seventy-five – you were made and created, by the Maker of the universe, to be deeply connected. To be loved, not because of how you look, to be loved not because of what you do, not because of what you possess, not because of who you might know, but to have a relationship with other human beings that they would actually see you as you are and accept and affirm and love and actually see some stuff that they don’t like all that much and love you anyway.
And so we are on a journey and we just can’t talk about real love in real life without pausing and talking about this romance thing. That special person.
Apart from a special gift from God, whom He gives to some, to be celibate for the order of being more focused in ministry; apart from that special group, and I think it’s very small, most all of us long, someday, to find that special person, be deeply connected, and love them and be loved.
Or if you have already found that special person, is to keep that romance alive where you are connected from the heart and there is that same kind of joy that you had in those early days when you were kind of goo-goo eyed.
And what we are going to do is go on a journey, because I believe there are two fundamental models that will tell you how to get real romance.
The first model we are going to look at is Hollywood’s model. The second model is going to be God’s model. And when I say, “Hollywood’s model,” I don’t just mean there is some group of people who are in the back of a studio somewhere at MGM or Sony and they have created some system.
What I am talking about when I say, “Hollywood’s model,” is if you could take, over the last, literally, fifty to seventy-five years, all the songs, all the books, all the Netflix, all the movies, all the TV shows of every era of all time, all the self-help books, everything that has ever been created and you could run it through a really powerful computer and come out with an algorithm that would say: On the basis of all those movies, all those self-help books, every romance novel you have ever read, any sitcom – The Bachelor, The Bachelorette – this is how you can find that right person.
And what I want you to know as I go through this, it’s in the air, it’s in the water, it’s in the culture, it is what you and I, unless you are born someplace in the Amazon without any contact with civilization, this is how all of us have been taught you can find the right person and then keep them and then have real romance. Are you ready?
Step number one, if it came out of that super computer, all that would come out together and it would say you’ve got to find the right person. Right? All those songs. I’ve got to find the right person.
And as you want to find the right person, that means that you have to attract them just like bees are attracted to honey, you need to be good bait. You need to look a certain way. You need to dress a certain way. You need to talk a certain way. At different seasons of your life, you need to drive a certain kind of car. You need to wear a certain kind of jewelry. You need to have a certain kind of job.
There’s a whole system of things that would attract this special person to you. And all I want to say is that, primarily, it is focused on how you look, what you wear, what you have. In fact, every day, whether it’s a commercial here, whether it’s a movie there, whether it’s watching a part of a TV show here, whether it is walking through the drugstore, the theme goes over and over and over. In fact, I actually took a little trip to the drugstore.
And I will just quickly, when I walked out and you get this, your kids get this, you can be seven, you can be seventeen, but you walk by and other than where the candy is, there are magazines, correct? And these magazines will tell us: This is how you find the right person.
So I went by and found sexy abs are the way to get the right guy. This is: Lean, sexy in fifteen minutes. Go to the gym. Seventy-five ways to look hot at the beach. This is Cosmo: You deserve better sex. Feed your cravings. Smart ways to double your money. Score a great job. Perfect skin; gorgeous hair. Is there a theme going on here?
This is a very famous person and a very famous family. And she is having a baby and they are trying to figure out which one of these five guys she has been dating is the father. And then you have Johnny Depp here who is going through a rough time. And someone is saving their marriage.
But what my point is, the prettiest people with the most money, as you go through the drugstore, they are kind of recycling – right? – with one another.
This is, even as we get older, you’re not allowed to get old. At sixty-two, Oprah has slimmed down thirty pounds. And I want to tell you that in every one of these magazines, here’s a workout program, here’s a diet, here’s a pill.
But, guys, let’s not leave you out. I remember when Zach was doing Disney films. He ain’t doing Disney films anymore. Zach wants you to know he has got a Baywatch plan, that there are salads and sandwiches that can build muscle. Those are the kinds of sandwiches I want.
You can get better sex tonight. The proof? Rock your abs, pack on muscle, get, are you guys ready? Get shredded.
Finally, you get the right haircut, a little stubble, the cologne is where it’s at. We are done.
We laugh. Would you pause for just a minute and realize every movie, every book, every sitcom, every primetime, every commercial you are bombarded that you have to find the right person and the way to find the right person is to look a certain way.
And all those people on those magazines are in the top one percent of the gene pool. And then after that, this is their full-time job. And they have full-time chefs. And then after that, they take pictures of them and someone goes in and touches everything up. They don’t really even exist. They don’t!
And, yet, all of us are buying stuff and spending our time and our energy trying to look a certain way and did you notice that there is almost an equation that sex and love are the same thing?
So if you’re going to find the right person, you have to look a certain way. And the fashion industry, what kind of car you buy, what kind of cologne you wear, the multi, multi-billion dollar makeup industry, how to get your skin smoother and softer, how to get lifted here and tucked there. It’s all about you have been brainwashed and I have been brainwashed to find or to keep the right person. That is in your head.
The second thing that happens, if you haven’t already found this person, is according to Hollywood’s model, is you fall in love. This is a process called “infatuation” whereby you see another person and something happens, literally, chemicals in your brain. They have done a lot of research here. And there are certain chemistries that happen through different people and how they look and how they happen to be dressed, even the color of their top or how low something is or how high something is or how tight his shirt is or how big his biceps are.
And chemicals go off in your brain and we call it “falling in love.” Your IQ usually drops about thirty to forty points, you start spending money, doing things like you go to maybe one of the coffee shops and you notice him and you think he notices you and you both get a refill at the same time and you brush up against each other. You see the kind of car he drives out and you go, That’s just the kind of car and just the kind of man I have always wanted.
And then you go home and tell your roommate, “I think I’m in love.” “Oh, what’s his name?” “I don’t know.” “What’s he like?” “I don’t know. But he drives this kind of car. He had stubble. He had very big biceps. He had a tattoo right here. Man, there’s just something inside of me! I’m in love!” And so, pretty soon, you buy different outfits and want to go to that same place at the same time, hoping that he might be there. And guys do this too.
Sometimes it’s not so dramatic. Sometimes it’s just pulling up in your car at a stoplight. You happen to glance over. She glances over. Your eyes meet. Your heart races. She was made for you. Hello, I love you. Tell me your name.
See, what I want you to understand, we have all been down this road. I have people that I have counseled and stories of a young man that I know in his mid-twenties. A really good looking guy who met a girl for the first time and knew her for two hours, was convinced he was in love and started getting multi-hundred-dollar phone bills as he talked to her on the phone. That’s in the old days of long distance. And then he drove eleven hours to Phoenix, knocked on her door and gave her a rose, let her know that he loved her and then drove eleven hours, happened to miss work.
He started spending money he didn’t have, he couldn’t sleep at night, there’s this euphoric thing that happens and if you look at a movie. Or isn’t it amazing how they just meet one another and then they are happy, they are usually in bed together pretty quickly, and there is this euphoric, idyllic fantasy that this is how we meet and we will have these feelings. And then when we have these feelings, then we set our hopes and dreams, that’s number three.
You find the right person, you fall in love, and then you fix your hopes and dreams on this person for your future fulfillment. And that’s why, when you breakup, you can’t live without him! You get sick, you can’t sleep, you can’t go to work because your hope is set on this person and these feelings and there is hurt and pain.
And some of you, some of us have been through that: you get in this, then it doesn’t work out, breakup, you get in this, you go for a while and breakup. Some of you, it has happened in your marriages. But if you buy this, whether you are single or married, pretty soon, the feelings aren’t as strong.
And I’m inundated everyday that somehow, regardless of how old Theresa is, she is supposed to look like this. She is put in an impossible situation. It gets worse for me. I’m supposed to look like this! And so we put our hopes and our dreams, and couples, by the way, the window that is most volatile is between three and six years in a marriage. If a marriage makes it ten years or more, you really have a great chance of staying married for a long time.
The next, most critical window is somewhere around sixteen to twenty-four years when a lot of change has occurred and the man tends to get more focused on work and if you have kids, the woman on this, and pretty soon, all the things that developed, those great feelings, begin to wane and conversations like, first, it just starts off with little frustration, then there’s some anger, then there’s some resentment, and then there is some drift.
And then you want that hole filled up and so people start going online and checking out websites and then pretty soon you get a message that goes, “I don’t love you anymore.” And then all the mantra is: “We drifted apart. It was for a season.” Wrong.
And so then, notice, Hollywood’s model is: Failure occurs; repeat steps one, two, and three. Except the second time you try it out longer and live together. And the divorce rate goes up to seventy-five or eighty percent. And we are living in a world of people whose relationships don’t work.
And Hollywood has fed us a program of finding the right person, fall in love, fix your hopes and dreams on them. And then if failure occurs, repeat steps one, two, and three. The success rate, I actually decided not to share it all. This is all research. Research about what happens when people do it this way. Research about the times and the divorce and the heartache and what happens to children of, who are adults now, that when their parents divorced. And breakups and depression and drug addictions and sexual addictions and all kinds of research. When you buy this. And it’s not like you’re jumping in and saying, “Oh, I really believe this.” This is the world. You have to fight against believing that or you will just be sucked in.
Now, those ooey-gooey, euphoric feelings are designed by God at the right time in the right way and He has a plan. But one of the saddest things for me is that even those who experience, who are the “one percent,” they become extraordinarily disillusioned.
I was praying through this and I remember two years ago I was flying back from the East Coast and got on a long plane flight back to San Jose. And I had my ticket and trying to figure out where I was and so I got on a little bit late. Everyone was already seated. I am walking all the way back and as I am walking all the way back, there are two or three empty seats and then about two-thirds of the way back it’s one of those that there are three on this side and two on this side.
And there was an empty seat and then there was a young lady, I would say early thirties who wasn’t pretty. She was stunning. She made models look ugly. It was stunning. You could just watch the men in the plane go, What? She’s in the top ten percent of the one percent gene pool. Stunning.
And so I thought, I wonder what guy has to sit next to her and what that will go like. And then I got there and I went, Oh. I guess it’s me! And I sat down and all of us are human so if you sit next to someone who is really powerful or they are really rich or they are really handsome or they are really pretty or something, all the insecurities come up. You’re human. We all do that.
And so as I sat down, I thought, Now, I’ve got five hours next to this, I am a very happily married man. I wasn’t struggling with lust-type issues at all, apparently, which was very good. But it was like, I wonder what goes through the mind and the heart, except I have been down this road, so I kind of knew.
So we talk for just a little while so I thought, I’ll just go ahead and break the ice. And I began to talk about my wife, I talked about my daughter, I talked about my kids. And I wanted to really let her know, I’m not hitting on you.
And then I made an interesting statement. I said, “I bet you have had some really interesting challenges in your life.” And she looked at me like, Well, what do you mean? I said, “Well, you are obviously aware that you are a very beautiful young woman.” And she smiled. And then I said, “Have you, I bet you have had a lot of struggle with having close friendships with other women, probably in the teenage and early college years because when you get around their boyfriend, either they are jealous of how you look or they are threatened by you.”
And she looked at me and her eyes got a little watery. I said, “Worse yet, I don’t know if you’re dating someone or what is going on in your life,” and I had enough background to go there, I said, “But every guy, I imagine, you have ever dated is you probably long for some man to look at you and appreciate and love you for you instead of just the beautiful face and beautiful hair and the nice figure that you have.”
And I watched a tear begin to swell up and come down her cheek. And then I shared with her that there was a man who would love her just for her. And I got a chance to share the gospel and tell her the hope that she has. And everyone thinks that being really wealthy or really, really smart or really, really pretty is a blessing. For those people who are way, way out there, I’ve got to tell you, they have very unique challenges.
And I remember going through that plane flight and she told me, “Well, I just came back from Hawaii with a man.” I said, “How did that go?” She said, “Well, pretty typical.” And then with a tear coming down her cheek she goes, “Is it too late?” Because I shared Hollywood’s plan with her. And I said, “You just kind of cycle, don’t you?” She goes, “Yeah.” I said, “It’s never too late. Jesus wants to love you and when you are fully loved then He can bring a person into your life who will love you for you, not how you look.”
The other ninety-nine percent of us, if you’re a woman, you’re trying to look like her by how you dress and what you wear. Or if you’re a man, you’re trying to get either muscles or power or something to attract that kind of person. All I am saying is, are you ready? It doesn’t work.
It doesn’t work if you fail, it doesn’t work if you succeed. It is a lie. And the reason a lot of relationships breakup, a lot of marriages don’t work, is that, Oh, I don’t feel these wonderful feelings. I must have the wrong person. So I am going to find someone else. And the cycle happens over and over and over.
And God brought us into this room, on this day to say there is real love and real life and there is a way to have real romance. And let me share with you a second model and a second plan that is very, very different.
So let’s look at God’s plan. There is much to say, but I can summarize His plan, actually, in two verses from Ephesians chapter 5. If you have your electronic Bible or a paper Bible or your phone, turn to Ephesians chapter 5, because there is some context I want you to see.
God’s prescription goes something like this: “Therefore, be imitators of God as beloved children. And walk in love just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”
First of all, in your notes, I want you to put a circle around therefore and then put an arrow because anytime there is a “therefore,” something must have happened at the end of chapter 4 that says, “therefore.”
Next, I want you to draw a line where it says, be imitators of God, and above that write, “Command number one.” There are two commands in this little, short passage. Command number one: Be imitators of God. The Greek word is mimic. In other words, mimic God. Love the way God loves. This is how to do relationships.
In fact, later on in the same chapter, he will begin to talk about sexuality and he will talk about the lust and different ways that people imitate the world. He goes, “No.” Imitate, imitate, love people the way God loves them.
And then, are you ready? I want you to put a parenthesis where it says: as beloved children. Put a parenthesis. As beloved children.
See, the premise, what you’re going to find is he is going to say, “Therefore, mimic, love people the way God loves them,” and then he is going to say, “as a dearly loved,” is the idea, or, “dearly precious son or daughter.” The only way you can ever love people fully is when you feel so loved and you experience Christ’s love and His acceptance and His adoption and His inheritance and know who you are in Christ. Then, instead of trying to have someone fix you or, I am going to be complete someday, someway when I find this person or when this person delivers in my marriage in every way, which they never will, because they are like you. They are human.
And so he says, “As a dearly loved son or daughter.” And then notice command number two: “Walk in love.” Underline that.
And then he describes, what does it mean to walk in love? “Just as Christ loved you.” Well, how did Christ love you? Was it an emotional, ooey-gooey feeling? Or was He in a garden seeing your need, asking the Father if there is any way but this way, can we have that? “Nevertheless, I will do whatever.” Emotionally, He did not want to go to the cross. But love is giving another person what they need the most. It’s a choice. It is choosing to give another person what they need the most – are you ready? – when they deserve it the least at great personal cost.