In my personal devotional life, I have discovered that it is helpful to sometimes think of Jesus as if He is a girlfriend. I have noticed many things about Jesus that I can relate to as a woman, and so I believe that Jesus wants us to relate to him similar to how I want my husband to relate to me. By realizing how I want to be treated as a woman, I can also apply this to how I should relate to Jesus and treat him. This has helped me deepen my devotional life, feel closer to Jesus, and have right motivations for serving God. I hope that thinking of Jesus in these ways might also help you take your spiritual devotional life more seriously.
Jesus Wants to be Pursued
In any serious relationship, women want to feel pursued. We want to know that the person we love wants to spend time with us, and that we are so important that they take time out of their busy day just to call or visit with us. It makes us feel special, loved, important, and treasured. A girlfriend will not be happy if you only call her once a week when you are bored and finally remembered to think about her, and will not be happy if you try to squeeze in time with her between your favourite sports show and when dinner is ready.
So similarly, Jesus wants to feel that relationship with him is important to us. He wants us to be intentional and to take time out of our busy days just to spend time with him. Just like a girlfriend, Jesus wants to spend time with us every day, or else your relationship with him will start to deteriorate. A short call or text to your girlfriend is better than nothing, and a short prayer to Jesus before you fall asleep is better than nothing. But, if you really want a deep, meaningful, satisfying relationship with Jesus, you're going to have to spend more intentional time with him. So try to dedicate a specific time each day to spend with just Jesus, praying to him, thinking about him, asking him for help with what you need, and reading the Bible.
When I was a younger Christian, I always thought this advice was overrated. I tried to just fit in prayers here and there when I had time or when something to pray for popped into mind. But during one of my mandatory classes in Seminary, an assignment required daily devotions for at least 30 minutes per day. At first I hated it. It seemed pointless, like it was wasting my time, and I worried that having a regularly scheduled devotional time would make it seem artificial and not meaningful. But I found that as I continued, it really did help me feel closer to Jesus than I ever had in the past. Now I try to make it a regular part of my day, that 30 minutes or so before I get ready for bed, I go into my room, shut the door, and try to spend time with Jesus. I talk to him about my day, about things I'm worried about and need help with, and ask what sort of things he wants me to focus on or do the next day. I sometimes read the Bible or do a daily devotional, or sing quietly, but mostly I try to just be focused on Jesus and talking to him. It really does make a difference, and so I'd encourage you that if you don't have a specific designated time daily to meet with Jesus, you should try to make one, whether it's in the morning, at night, or at lunchtime.
Also, similar to a girlfriend, Jesus might temporarily appear to withdraw from you. You might not hear him as clearly as you used to, or you might not feel his closeness or love as intensely. This doesn't mean that he no longer loves you. He's proved his love for you by dying on the cross for your sins, so that you can live with him forever in heaven! So instead, think of this silence as encouragement to demonstrate your commitment to him and keep pursuing him. It's kind of like when a girlfriend will purposely be distant, to see if you care enough about her to pursue her and come find her. Being pursued intentionally by a guy is very romantic, and so we should also pursue Jesus intentionally to show him we love him.
Jesus Wants to be Praised
Girlfriends love to be told that they are pretty, beautiful, amazing, wonderful, talented, and fun to be around. Anyone likes to know that others appreciate them and everyone likes to be complimented and praised. Jesus is no different. We should tell Jesus how much he means to us, how much we love him, how amazing it was that he would die for us, and how much we're looking forward to seeing him in heaven. We should compliment his character - his love for us, his perfection, his grace, his mercy, his justice, his creative ability, and his goodness. In fact, doing this is called "worship" - telling God how amazing he is and how much we appreciate all that he is and all that he has done for us. You can worship God in church, but you can also worship at home by singing songs to him, singing along with the songs on the radio in the car, or just praying to Jesus and telling him all the reasons why you love him. Girls love being told all the reasons why their boyfriends or husbands love them, and Jesus loves it even more.
Jesus Wants a Deep Relationship With You
Girls are not satisfied with a relationship that stays only on a superficial level. If you only talk to your girlfriend about the weather, sports, the news, the latest movie you saw, or what you ate for lunch, she's probably going to get quite bored. What women really want is a deep, real, sincere relationship with their man. This is achieved by talking about the deeper things in life - your goals, aspirations, fears, weaknesses, regrets, wishes, opinions, and deepest inner feelings and thoughts.
If you want a deeper relationship with Jesus, then also try talking to him on a deeper level. Don't just say the same prayers every night. Don't repeat a formula, even the Lord's Prayer (which, by the way, is meant to be a sample outline of prayer - not a complete prayer in itself), and don't just come with a list of things you want help with and tick them off one-by-one. While these prayers are better than no prayers at all (just like chatting with your girlfriend about the weather is better than not chatting at all), Jesus wants you to go deeper. God already knows all your deepest inner thoughts and feelings already, so why not pray about these things too! Don't be ashamed - be honest with God, and talk to him about all the things you might never tell anyone else.
Jesus Wants to Be Listened To
It's no good just to talk to your girlfriend if you never let her respond to you. A one-way relationship isn't really a relationship at all. So if you want to get to know Jesus more, you're going to have to find ways to listen to him. But this can be tricky. The best way is to read the Bible, since the Bible is God's inspired word to us, and we are guaranteed to hear from God when we read the Bible, through the Holy Spirit who speaks to our hearts, illuminating scripture and applying it to our situations. Don't just flop the Bible open and pick one random verse. Read it in context, in larger portions, and you'll get a much better understanding of what Jesus wants to say to you. When you're reading the Bible, the Holy Spirit can make a verse stand out to you, or can apply what you read directly to a situation you're facing. You learn about God's character, how he interacted with people from the past, and can learn from the mistakes people have made and how to live in a way God wants you to live. If you want to learn more, get a study Bible, which has lots of great notes that can help you understand the Bible in a deeper way, and can help make sense of the tricky verses. If you really want to learn more and have the time and money, why not do a few courses at Bible college or Seminary?
You also hear from God in church, during the sermons. Hopefully you can find a church with a decent pastor who preaches scripturally-based sermons. God can speak through the preacher's words, through the Holy Spirit, right into your heart, to address your personal needs or feelings. While not everything the preacher says is the exact words of God, because they are also imperfect humans, in general you can hear from God personally by paying attention to sermons. Before going to church, why not pray that something in the service will touch you personally today, and be open to what you feel the Holy Spirit might want to say to you, either through the music, scripture reading, sermon, or through interactions with fellow Christians?
And finally, the Holy Spirit can speak directly to you. But it's tricky to make sure you've heard him and not just heard your own imagination. But remember, what God says to you will never contradict the Bible, and the Spirit will often remind you of what you've heard in sermons and read in the Bible. I try to take time at the end of every devotional time to just be quiet and see if there is anything God wants to say to me. I sometimes hear the Holy Spirit like a very quiet thought that appears in my head, which addresses me by name and which speaks in full sentences in a way that doesn't sound like me, and doesn't simply confirm my own thoughts. If you want more details on ways that you can hear from the Holy Spirit and how to be sure it's really him speaking, you should read the really good book "Jesus Continued" by J. D. Greear .
Jesus Wants to Be the Only One in Your Life
Girlfriends are jealous, and get angry when they find out their man has been dating someone else at the same time. In the Old Testament God frequently compares Israel to an unfaithful spouse who has been cheating on him by worshipping other gods. Today, we don't bow down to literal idols, but our "idols" are much more subtle and insidious. Many people today worship power, success, money, fame, beauty, popularity, or material things. But none of these things will ultimately satisfy us like a deep relationship with God will, and none can provide eternal salvation. What are you trusting to save you? The eternal life that we will have in heaven is far more important than our lives here, and so I find that remembering this helps me rearrange my priorities and not go chasing after things that are only good for this short temporal life. I would rather spend my time on things that will matter forever, such as my relationship with Jesus. For more study on this issue, I would recommend the book "Counterfeit Gods" by Timothy Keller .
Jesus Wants to Come First in Your Life
A girlfriend or wife is not going to be happy if you treat her as less important than other things in your life. While other things like a job, school, family, friends, and even church responsibilities and volunteering are important, they are still much less important than spending time with God. So take some time and look at where your priorities are right now. Are you chasing financial or career success? Are you trying to have the perfect family? What is it that comes first for you? I would challenge you to put God first in your life. Jesus said to seek God's kingdom first, and then other things that we need in life will be given to us (Matthew 6:24-33).
Jesus Wants You to Read the Love Letters He Wrote You
A girlfriend who writes emails and letters to her boyfriend does it with the intention that they will be read by her boyfriend. The Bible is God's love-letter to you, so read it! The Bible is full of wonderful things that help you learn more about God. Just like how a girlfriend will pour out her soul to her boyfriend in her letters and emails, the Bible is God's most direct communication to you. How insulted would a girlfriend be if you never read the letters she writes to you? In the Bible we learn about how God has acted in history, what God's character is like, and the amazing future God has promised to those who love him. He gives tips and advice for Christian living, and shows how much he loved you that he would come and live with humans for 30+ years and then die so that God can forgive your sins. So this is why we should all read our Bibles.
If you really want to know a lot more about the Bible, try reading some commentaries or theology books. I've become a lot closer to God over the years by reading theology books. Although they are not infallible like the Bible is, you can find some great authors who can really help you understand the Bible more deeply, can explain things that don't seem to make sense, and can explain clearly what the Bible teaches about God. I've got a short list of great Christian books that can be a good place to start to boost your faith and love for God.
Jesus Likes it When You Give Gifts to Him
Everyone knows that girlfriends love gifts. There are all sorts of gifts you can give that make women happy. Gifts make us feel special, appreciated, and shows us that we are more valuable to you than money is. So in a similar way, Jesus loves it when we give him gifts. Here are a few of the gifts Jesus loves best:
- Your heart: Just like how the best present you can ever give to a girlfriend is to marry her, the best present you can ever give to Jesus is yourself. Simply accept his death on the cross as payment for your sins, and Jesus promises that you will be his personal love and treasure forever! This first step of faith in Christ as your saviour leads to an eternal relationship with God where you can enjoy him for eternity. Ultimately, Jesus wants everyone to come into this sort of relationship with him, and there is nothing he wants more than you.
- Your life: Once you've recognized just what your salvation cost Jesus, it motivates you to give him the rest of your life. This doesn't mean you have to become a monk. It just means that you will try to follow him and serve him the best you can, being open to doing whatever God leads you to do. Put your own goals for your life aside and see the amazing places God will take you, if you let him. While it requires faith, God's plans for our lives are better than anything we could plan for ourselves. So pray and see what God wants you to do. Start small. If you feel God is calling you to do something, then have faith and try it out.
- Your money: Not that Jesus needs money - he owns the entire universe, and everything you have is a gift from him in the first place. But spending money on Jesus shows that he means more to you than your money, and your generous giving helps him accomplish good things in the world. Some churches say that you should give a certain percentage of your income to them. But I think that it's better to let people give however much they gladly feel like giving. Girlfriends generally love gifts best when they are a surprise and spontaneous, given out of your love for her, not when you feel you have to give them to her out of duty or obligation. So tithe (and/or donate to other Christian organizations) however much you feel you want to give, out of gratefulness and generosity for everything God has already given you, not out of duty or obligation.
Jesus Likes it When You Do Nice Things for Him
All women love it when their men do nice things for them. We like it when we come home from a hard day at work and find our guy has cleaned the kitchen for us, or has prepared a surprise romantic dinner for us. Jesus likes it when you do nice things for him also. In Matthew 25:34-46, we hear Jesus saying that when we do things like provide clothes for naked people, visit people in prison, and take care of the sick, it is like we have done these things for Jesus himself! So if you feed the homeless, it is equivalent to taking Jesus out for a romantic dinner. If you buy shoes for a child whose single mother is on welfare and can't afford to buy shoes for her child, it is like you've treated Jesus to a new pair of golden heavenly sneakers. This is a powerful motivation to do whatever we can to help others in need, as Jesus sees it as if we have done it for Jesus himself. This makes Jesus very happy, and he will reward us for everything we do - even things as small as giving a glass of water to someone in his name (Matt 10:42, Mark 9:41).
Based on the above discussion, we have seen that it can help to think of Jesus as being our girlfriend, and treating him the same way that we would treat our girlfriend (or if we are a woman, how we would want to be treated by a man). This can help us see some practical ways that we can have a closer relationship with Jesus, and encourage us to take our relationship with Jesus more seriously than we may be doing right now. Jesus is the ultimate girlfriend, as he will never leave us or forsake us, and will always forgive us when we mess up, but that doesn't mean we can treat him badly. So if you feel you have mistreated him, pray to him and ask for forgiveness, and he will forgive you, and you can try better from then on. I believe that if you are truly trusting in Jesus' death on the cross for your sins, you will be saved. But missing out on a deep relationship with Jesus in this life means that your life will be much less satisfying than it could be, and you will lack the peace and encouragement that walking with God can give you. Even if you've always been Christian and have been faithful for a long time, keep spending the time and effort to pursue Jesus to deeper levels, as God is a rewarder of those who seek him diligently (Heb. 11:6).