Have you met Ted?

So a few nights ago I was watching He’s Just Not That Into You with my sisters and cousin (yes, I know, how intellectually stimulating). For some reason, I love this movie. I love all the different storylines, how they run into each other, how each person/couple shows a different kind of love and relationship. There is so much variety, it seems a bit like what real life is actually like. One character, Mary, is trying to meet a man using various social networking sites online. About halfway into the movie, she says:

People don’t meet each other organically anymore. If I would like to make myself seem more attractive to the opposite sex, I don’t go and get a new haircut, I update my profile.

Meeting people and starting relationships has become so, well, clinical. Gone are the days of running into someone during some chance meeting in the park or at the bookstore. Today, people sign up for online dating, request to be your friend on facebook, follow your blog or twitter. We have made relationships something that can be accomplished in cyberspace.

But there is something missing. Chatting online, sending emails, commenting on each others walls puts distance between us and the relationship we are trying to have. It isn’t anything that we are actively involved in. Its something that we can turn on and turn off with the push of a button. I believe that many relationships can begin on the internet, but I have a hard time imagine they are sustainable online. At some point, we need to see, hear, and touch the person whom is growing to mean so much to us. We want to go for coffee with them, watch a movie with them, go shopping with them, have a picnic with them. We want to interact, to connect with them face to face.

The question is, where do I meet someone if I don’t want to rely on the internet? If I want to meet someone “organically,” where should I go?

I’m not all that interested in bars or clubs. To be honest they make me a bit flustered. Besides, without an awesome wingman to randomly introduce me to strangers, I’m not sure it would turn out all that well. (Points for anyone who has watched How I Met Your Mother, by the way.) I could never do the whole “let’s meet while we are both coincidentally jogging in the same direction.” I’m more of a work out in the gym type, and no one is looking their best after a workout. Bookstores would be nice, but guys don’t tend to frequent the same sections as I do most of the time (though maybe a cashier would be a possibility?). And coffee shops seem to be either a place where people are in a hurry or meeting up with other people.

The obvious answer, which I’m sure that most of you are thinking, is church. What better place to meet a nice, wonderful Christian man than at church. And you’re right. That is probably the best place to look. But I’ve always felt that going to church with the purpose of looking for a boyfriend (or girlfriend for you gentleman out there) isn’t what church is about. I believe that we go to church to fellowship, to develop relationships. I believe that serious romantic relationships that begin as friendships formed in a church setting are what most of us strive for. It’s the best option, the most ideal.

But we shouldn’t use church as a dating service. We shouldn’t go there the way people go to a bar, moving from one church to the next with the hope of finding that lucky guy or girl. Church, first and foremost is a place for us to focus on our relationship with God. We are there to worship, to praise Him, to offer thanksgiving in prayer, and ask for His guidance. It is a place for us to hear the Word of God spoken and explained. It is a place for us to grow and develop in our walk with Him.

It can be easy for church to become the ultimate dating playground. There are so many people from different walks in life, different ages, different physical attributes, different personalities. Honestly, there is probably someone for just about anyone. People are encouraged to interact, fellowship, spend time with each other. It can also be easy for us to lose our focus on what church is supposed to be.

Imagine your having a party on your birthday. It’s a celebration for you. People have taken time out of their day to come to your party, to wish you well, maybe even to give you presents. But when they get there, your guests ignore you. They focus their attention on the other people in the room, only giving you a cursory nod of acknowledgement. They only came to hang out and talk with the other people you invited, and your invitation gave them the perfect opportunity to meet new people. Your presence, for the most part, is irrelevant.

If that was my party, I’d cry (if I wanted to… and you would, too). How depressing would it be to know none of those people, friends and family that you love, came to the party to actually celebrate with you? That’s what I imagine God would feel like (in His own more godly way) if we were to come to church with the purpose of finding a husband or wife. Church is our time to focus on God rather than ourselves. We come to celebrate the amazing things He has and will continue to do for us. Of course, we are there to fellowship as well. God tells us to fellowship with other believers. But church shouldn’t be social hour, catch up time with friends, or the new dating scene. It should be God’s party. Maybe if we’re lucky, He can introduce us to someone meant absolutely for us. He would probably be the best wingman we could find.

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