I happen to be a fairly jealous individual.
It's not a trait that I'm particularly proud of. But it's one that I will readily own up to. It simply doesn't make sense for me not to admit to it because it's frequently glaringly obvious. It's awful, but there are just times that I crave attention. Don't misunderstand- I hate being the center of attention. I don't want attention from anyone and everyone. But if I manage to get close to people, I like being around them and because of my attempt to be a constantly accessible and available person, I have an admittedly shallow tendency to get the tiniest bit irritated when people don't have the same exclusive schedule that I see myself having.
Yes, I am aware that this is a major character flaw. I'm working on it.
A recent flare-up of this jealousy ended up driving me into a period of deep thought and, eventually, a little bit of conviction. It occurred to me that I can be so persnickety when it comes to my own relationships, but somehow I find it so hard to comprehend the idea that God is a jealous God.
I've always hated that statement. God is a jealous God. It always struck me as being self-centered and just overall negative. I know that this theology is, obviously, quite flawed, but that's the way it always registered with me, so I chose not to think about it. After simmering on the idea, I came to the conclusion that my original thought process really didn't make sense at all. In my own life, I don't crave the time or love of people I hate or am indifferent towards. I don't particularly desire the admiration of my acquaintances. My jealousy tends to be directed towards the people that I hold dearest, the people that I fiercely love. I want the company of people that I deeply care about and to be completely transparent, this group is probably limited to five people at the very generous maximum. And these are all people that I'm invested in.
So here's the thing. I am precious to God. Believe it or not, so are you. God has a passionate interest in your life and existence. Because he loves you more than you could ever imagine. And he died for you, so I guess you could say that he's a little bit invested in you. So doesn't it make sense that he wants to capture your full and undivided attention? Don't you think that if you gave your life for someone, you'd be a little bit peeved if they chose to run around playing with the things that drew them away from the intimacy you intended to have with them?
And doesn't that whole analogy of giving your life to someone who decides to run around eventually sound like a faulty marriage after a while? God seems to think so. Take a brief look through the Major Prophets, namely Jeremiah or Isaiah. The visual is frequently given that Israel and Judah are like philandering wives, cheating on their husbands in some completely despicable ways. (Seriously. Read these parts of scripture. They're, conservatively estimating, about a PG-13. It's really not good.) Adultery is serious business, and God doesn't see your flirtation with the world any differently.
That's not to say that there aren't things in life to be enjoyed. I don't believe for an instant that God intended for us to sit in a room, isolated from everyone and everything, until he returns or we die. Unless of course, you have devoted your life to the work of the monastery, in which case God bless you and why are you online? But if these things become such a big weight that it drives you away from him, then we have a problem. Certainly be a friend to those in the world, but don't be in love with the world.
One last thing. As with any type of relationship, be it romantic or friendship, just because the individual knows that you appreciate them and love them doesn't mean they still don't like to hear it every once in a while. Same goes for God. He's omniscient. He knows what you're thinking. But every once in a while, it doesn't hurt to thank him and tell him you love him.
In fact, I think he'd kind of like that.